The smoke has cleared and the wrapping paper is in tiny shreds on your floor, however, Santa didn’t quite nail it. The gift might not be what you were expecting, maybe it doesn’t fit or it’s the wrong colour. Next step, return the item or exchange it for something else.
“Naturally this is the busiest time of the year for most retailers,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC.
“That said, stores often have new policies during the Christmas season and will only accept returns in January. British Columbians also need to remember that there are no laws that govern return policies. If all they offer is store credit and not cash, then that’s what you get. It’s always best to understand their conditions before you buy.”
BBB offers the following advice for hassle-free returns and exchanges:
- Keep your receipts. Ask for a gift receipt and enclose it with the present.
- Read the retailer’s return policy before you purchase products. Make sure you understand whether you, or the recipient of your gift, can get a refund, exchange or store credit for unwanted merchandise.
- Monitor the ‘return clock.’ Many retailers may only allow returns within a certain time frame and that time frame usually begins when the item is purchased, not when it is given.
- Save time and frustration. Consider arriving at the store when they open to avoid long return lines and bypass the stores’ major crowds on big shopping days like the day after Christmas.
- Understand return policies for sale merchandise. Return policies for sale or clearance merchandise may be different than merchandise sold at full price.
- Don’t remove items from their boxes. Some stores will not accept returns unless the merchandise is in its original packaging.
- Ask about restocking fees. Some merchants charge a restocking fee for returns of electronics products or large-ticket items.
- Have a grasp on store credit restrictions. Refunds issued in the form of merchandise credit may be subject to expiration dates and/or other restrictions may apply like ‘not redeemable online.’
- Ask about return shipping fees. Be sure to read return policies when buying online or from catalogues to find out if you have to pay a return shipping fee. Sometimes merchandise can be returned to a store instead of the online merchant.