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Return Policies You Need to Know

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Have you ever bought a dress, worn it, and then returned it? This year, you might have a problem returning unwanted holiday gifts.

Woman returning lots of merchandise

Wardrobing, the act of buying, wearing, and returning items, is on the rise in this struggling economy. You know, it's the "I have nothing to wear for my date tonight, so maybe I'll just buy something, wear it once, and then return it." Though some people believe this is just "smart shopping" and a growing number of shoppers feel entitled to return items they no longer want, retailers are backlashing. This year, there will be more restrictive return policies, restocking fees, and they will keep a blacklist of serial wardrobers. What does that mean for those of us just wanting to return that hideous sweater your mother-in-law gave you? Some tips on what to do before hitting the long return lines ...

Return Tips:

1. Lost tags, missing packaging, or damaged boxes will make it difficult for you to make returns. Amazon.com says it will not accept returns of products missing the serial number on the box. Best Buy and Circuit City will charge a 15% restocking fee on some electronics, whether or not you have opened the box.
2. Bring a receipt. Without it, a retailer might credit you the lowest recent price or simply deny you altogether. Gift givers, include a gift receipt.
3. Go to the right place: If the item was purchased by mail order or online, make sure you ship to the address the retailer specifies. Macy's and Kohls don't accept returns by mail if the merchandise was purchased in person.
4. Go online or call the retailer before you stand in line or send something back, and make sure you have what you need to exhange or return.
5. The sooner you go to return, the better. Items are bound to go on sale soon after the holidays.
6. Did you cut off the tag? Bring it with you anyway.
7. Visit ConsumerWorld.org to check current return policies of most stores.



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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
lisaw December 26, 2009, 7:04 AM

You can pretty much forget returning gifts to Target. Unless you have the receipt or the credit card on which it was purchased they will not offer any returns or exchanges. They won’t even let you exchange for a different size! Target is by far the worst return experience I have ever had.

Lindy December 26, 2009, 5:43 PM

I worked at a JCP catalog center in the 80s. You would not believe the stuff that people returned: worn, dirty, stinky, altered, another store’s merchandise. Yes, I think stores should crack down on this.

Wishful December 27, 2009, 10:55 AM

Target is horrendous! If you buy something from there NEVER plan on returning it. I Unfortunately registered there (along with a few other stores) for my wedding. They don’t update registry very well so I had duplicate of many items. Then when I went to return it they wouldn’t accept it even with my registry there saying I received 3 dirt devil vacuums.

Wishful December 27, 2009, 10:56 AM

Target is horrendous! If you buy something from there NEVER plan on returning it. I Unfortunately registered there (along with a few other stores) for my wedding. They don’t update registry very well so I had duplicate of many items. Then when I went to return it they wouldn’t accept it even with my registry there saying I received 3 dirt devil vacuums.

PlumbLucky December 28, 2009, 4:38 AM

I remember working in the dress department at Sears in the mid-nineties…special occassion dresses (think prom, formal dance, holiday, bridesmaid) had a tag that was attached on the outside, mid-way down the dress, in the seam, that had to be attached to return and said so right on it. We still had people attempt. I guess I missed the memo that retail america is supposed to finance your wardrobe for date night or the holiday shebang.

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