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How to help ensure your holiday return goes smoothly

Dec 27, 2021, 6:44 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 10:01 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Christmas Day has come and gone, so now it’s time for the next seasonal tradition — returning unwanted gifts.

A retail consumer research report finds 42% of people had planned to return at least some gifts, well before the holiday. So, chances are, you will want to make at least one return. But not all return policies are created equal.

“Stores have their typical return policy, and then sometimes, they have a holiday return policy, and those two things can be different,” said smart shopping expert Trae Bodge of TrueTrae.com.

Bodge said you should familiarize yourself with the store’s return policy – they can vary wildly.

For one: a receipt is required for many stores, but others will still give you cash for your return without one, or at least store credit.

Next: Many stores will ask you to keep the original packaging and instructions and don’t cut off the tags. That will help you avoid restocking fees.

“The easier you make it for the retailer, the better off you’ll be,” Bodge said.

And you are on the clock, so you will want to know how much time you have to make a holiday return.

“If they have extended return window, for instance, they might accept returns well into January,” Bodge explained.

Best Buy will let you, even for gifts bought in October, as will Macy’s, Target and Amazon.

“You can make the return super easy,” said Amazon spokeswoman Natalie Wolfrom.

You can ship an item back to Amazon – with a secured label.

“Tape it from end to end so that if it rains or snows, that label won’t get damaged,” she explained.

But you can also drop off an Amazon item at a UPS Store, Whole Foods or Kohl’s by entering the item’s order number from the gift receipt into Amazon’s online return center. You will then get a Q-R code to show at wherever you take your return. No original packaging or special labels needed.

“They scan my barcode that matches the item that I want to return,” Wolfrom said. “And they take it off my hands for me.”

Wolfrom also warns that in a season especially rife with cybercrooks, make returns directly in Amazon.com and its online return center.

“Do not click on an email that says, ‘Click here to make your return’ or, ‘Click here to review this product,’” she said.

But regardless where you will ship the return, Bodge said you need to make sure it will reach the retailer before the deadline.

“You don’t want to wait until the last minute to ship that item back.”

Bodge also said having pictures of the item, its shipping label — even a barcode — are all good to have in case it gets lost in the mail.

And if you can’t return it, you can always resell it, donate it, or, if it’s really, really bad — it just might have White Elephant potential for next year.

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How to help ensure your holiday return goes smoothly