Hints will help you have many happy returns



Generally gifts are returned because they are the wrong size.
HELEN MALANI
SCRIPPS HOWARD
As I write, sitting in my car trunk is a sweater I received this holiday that I would like to return. Luckily, a gift receipt accompanied it. I think the giver knew the sweater might not quite be my style!
My appreciation for the gift was sincere, but so was my niece's open invitation for me to return it, no questions asked. I'm not alone; two-thirds of shoppers surveyed by BizRate Research admitted to returning a holiday gift. One reason for doing so was similar to my own; they just didn't quite like the gift. But the majority of people returned items because it was the wrong size.
When asked why they have returned holiday gifts in the past, the most popular reasons are that the item didn't fit (e.g. garment the wrong size) (80 percent), they didn't like the style, fit or color of the gift (52 percent), that they just didn't like the item (45 percent) and they already had that particular item (44 percent). Another 25 percent say they returned the item because it was defective. The most often-cited reason for returning a holiday gift among men and women alike is the fact that the item doesn't fit (78 percent of men vs. 81 percent of women).
Way to go
So with all this gift returning going on in January there a few tips to make the process easier:
Retailers expect returns this time of the year, so don't feel bad about doing so.
If the gift came with a gift receipt, be sure to bring it with you. You'll get a credit for the full amount the giver paid for the item at the time of purchase.
Ask for the receipt, only if the person won't be offended. You know who will and who won't. There's nothing wrong in telling them how grateful you are but it's the wrong size or you already own a similar item and would really love to get something else.
When the gift receipt isn't available, don't wait too long to make the return. Many retailers return policy on gifts kicks in Dec. 26. Call the retailer or check their Web site for their policies.
Promptness pays
Another reason to not wait too long is that merchandise tends to get discounted after the holiday. While the giver may have paid 49 for that holiday platter which you'll never use because you don't entertain, by the time you return it, it may be marked down 50 percent, and that's the amount you get credit for.
Electronics were huge this holiday. On many electronic items retailers deduct a restocking fee of 15 percent of the price if the box has been opened.
Online retailers' return policies can also vary. Some allow you to return it to any of their brick and mortar locations while others do not. So before you wait on a return line and discover the disappointing news, check the Web site for details. Those that require shipping back to them may offer free return shipping but most do not. I have found that the heavier the item I need to return, the best rates are often offered by FedEx Ground. Visit www.Fedex.com to find a drop off location near you.
Fraudulent merchandise returns take a bite out of retailers' pockets. The issue of return fraud was expected to cost retailers 3.5 billion for holiday 2006, according to a National Retail Federation survey. To prevent fraud or abuse of the return policy, most retailers now ask for your name, phone number and address and input it into their database. Be prepared to offer it.

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