By Jason Meza
Regional Director Better Business Bureau
13750 San Pedro Ave, Suite
400 San Antonio, Tx. 78232
p: 210.260.9843 Start With Trust®

When we think “holidays,” we picture family and friends gathered around a fire, giving and opening perfect gifts that were hand-picked with care. But sometimes those perfect gifts are less than perfect. Maybe grandma gave you a sweater that doesn’t fit. Did your best friend’s husband give you a book on the Civil War, even though you told him two months ago you find history boring? For retailers, the holiday shopping season often goes into early or mid-January, due to consumers returning and exchanging gifts they received during the holidays. However, stores aren’t legally required to offer refunds or exchanges, which can complicate the process. Better Business Bureau has some helpful tips to navigate returns and exchanges:

  • Get to know store policies. Make sure to familiarize yourself with a store’s return and exchange policies when doing your holiday shopping. You should also ask if their policies change during the holiday season. Understand that sale items are often ineligible for returns. You can typically find the store’s policy at the checkout counter or printed on the back of the receipt. If you’re unclear on anything, you can ask an employee for the full return and exchange policy.
  • Understand online policies. Find and read a seller’s return policy if you’re shopping online. If the company accepts returns and exchanges, you’ll want to know who pays for shipping the items back, or if there are physical locations where you can make your returns.
  • Find product warranty details. Warranties on items like electronics and home appliances are generally fulfilled through the manufacturer, not the retailer. If the item stops working or needs a replacement part and needs to be returned or exchanged through the warranty, find out ahead of time how that will need to be handled. When making your purchase, ask questions to clarify if the retailer can ship the item to the manufacturer, or if you will need to work with the manufacturer directly.
  • Keep receipts and packaging. Most stores only accept returns if you have the receipt and original packaging. If you are purchasing a gift, always opt for a gift receipt to give as well.
  • Bring your ID. Many retailers will ask to see your ID and original form of payment to process a return, in order to avoid scams and theft. This could be a permanent policy, or temporarily in place to avoid scams during the holiday season. If you are looking to exchange a gift at a retailer with this policy, you may need to bring along the person who gave it to you.
  • Be quick. Nearly all return policies have a time limit, commonly 30 days. Dealing with crowds can be a hassle, but don’t delay and miss your opportunity to make your return or exchange.