8 Secrets for Returning Practically Anything—Including Holiday Gifts

When the season of giving is over, there can often be a present or two you don't love. Here are expert tips on how to return absolutely anything.

Shoppingkikovic/ShutterstockKnow the right time to try a return

First, try going at a less busy time, advises Trae Bodge, a smart shopping expert. “The busier the store is, the longer the line. And the longer the line, the more likely it is that the representative will be feeling overwhelmed.” While actual days/times that are less crowded vary by store, in general, you want to steer clear of weekends. No choice but to go on a Saturday or Sunday? Here’s how to keep your cool when shopping crowds.

Do your research

Before walking into a store with a return, do some research about that store’s return and exchange policies. Bodge says it’s important to familiarize yourself with each store’s individual policy since all stores have different ones. Be prepared and keep an open mind about what you’ll receive for your return.

Don’t wait too long

Many stores have 30- to 60-day limits on returns and exchanges. “The more time you give the merchant to re-sell the item, the better,” says Bodge.

Try and keep tags on and have the receipt

Obviously, making a return with tags on and the receipt is a lot easier, says Bodge, but even without them, it’s not impossible. If you don’t have the receipt, you’ll likely get store credit, not cash. Here again, you want to be on the ball with your return as the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to get the highest value for your return, she shares.

Be persistent

“Don’t take no for an answer,” says Bodge, “If the representative gives you information about your return that you feel is unfair, ask to speak to a manager.” Here are some other secret tips sales associates won’t tell you.

But be respectful and don’t be a jerk

Remember the old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” and apply it here. “Customer service reps have a very tough job. Be nice,” says Bodge. “Also, some reps have leeway with store policies, but if you’re a jerk, you probably won’t be given any flexibility.” Check out these old-school etiquette tips that we all need to practice.

The Internet is your friend

If you aren’t sure where an item is from, take to the World Wide Web. “Google the item and see which stores carry it,” says Bodge, “Then, check their return policies for returns without a receipt. The store with the most flexible policy wins!” Here are some online shopping pitfalls to avoid.

Consider selling it online

If you can’t figure out where your gift came from or the store won’t take it back, selling it online is an option, suggests Bodge, “There’s Amazon Marketplace, Facebook Marketplace, CraigsList, Poshmark for clothing… to name a few.” Here’s everything you need to know about using Facebook Marketplace.

Popular Videos

Felissa Benjamin Allard
Felissa Allard has worked at The New York Daily News, Health, Life & Style, About.com and more. As a freelancer, she has had pieces published on What To Expect, SELF, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Modern Mom, Working Mother, and more. Her specialities are beauty, fashion, health, wellness, and parenting.