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Tips for Hassle-free Holiday Returns

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Hassle-free Holiday Returns

Just when you thought the madness in the stores had died down comes the gift returning season. Sadly, waiting in line for returns and exchanges is a ritual many of us still honor. A recent Consumer Reports survey revealed one-in-five Americans plan on celebrating this post-holiday tradition. Since this is unavoidable for most of us Momtrends learned some tips from Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., on how to return your items stress-free.

1. Research the Return Policy:
Retailers with websites almost always post their return policies. They may be difficult to find at first, so search under links for "Customer Service," "FAQ" or "Help." You'll find lots of small type, but it's worth reading through all the mouse scrawlings to know exactly what you'll face.

2. Keep an Eye on the Date:
Some stores have extended the number of days during which you can return holiday gifts, but most still hold to their standard policy. Remember the expiration date is from the time of purchase. In "Return rules at 8 big retailers" published last year, Consumer Reports found the average return period ranged from 30 to 180 days.

3. Keep the Gift Receipt:
If some thoughtful friend or loved one was kind enough to include a gift receipt, this is your golden ticket for exchanges or returns. Keep in mind that, because such receipts don't indicate the purchase price, the store likely will only reimburse you at the going rate.

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4. If You Don't Have a Receipt...
...bring an ID. More than 60 percent of retailers require a customer to show ID when returning an item without a receipt. This is because some stores limit how many times you can return purchases within a set time period.

5. Avoid Shipping Charges:
Many major retailers -- but not all -- will accept returns of online purchases at their brick-and-mortar stores. You might have to wait in line, but you'll save a bundle on shipping and the hassle of re-boxing a gift and mailing it out.

6. Don't Open What You Don't Want:
Because the merchant can't resell opened items as new, you could be charged a hefty restocking fee just for cracking the lid. Amazon cranks up the charge to 50 percent for software, used books and DVDs; but Overstock takes the cake at 60 percent for open or used products.

All tips were provided by Andrea Woroch.

Momtrends was not paid for this post.

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