Returning Holiday Gifts

Consumer Watch The national retail federation said 52 percent of retailers' return policies will be more lenient during the holiday season than the rest of the year.

The first rule for returns; Buyer beware. Know the retailers return policy before you buy. That includes stores in bankruptcy and liquidation, like Mervyns here, which hasn't accepted any returns after November 14th. Same goes for Linens 'N' Things, all sales are final.

But for other stores, this holiday, return policies are not so cut and dry.

Any expert gift giver and receiver will tell you: keep the receipt. Receipts are still the key to hassle-free returns, and keep all original packaging and parts, including tags..

Beyond that, Consumer Watch found return policies during the holidays vary widely from store to store.

We checked with some major chains to sort everything out.

Target's return policy:
- 90-day return period with receipt or gift receipt
- "Receipt lookup function" for lost receipts (if buyer paid with check, debit or credit)
- Target allows 2 small value (up to $35) non-receipt returns per person, per year

Wal-Mart Return Policy:
- 90-day return period with receipt or gift receipt
- Limited return items, such as electronics, purchased between Nov.15 through Dec. 25th, have a 15-45 day return period beginning Dec. 26th
- No receipt returns receive a Wal-Mart gift card

Best Buy Return Policy
- Best Buy extended its holiday return policy: qualifying gift purchases made between November 1 and December 24, 2008, can be returned through January 24, 2009.
- Exceptions: return deadline of Jan. 8, 2009 for monitors, projectors, digital cameras, camcorders, GPS systems, radar detectors, and used video games
- Exceptions: 14 days after purchase for desktop and notebook computers

Costco Return Policy
- 100% guaranteed satisfaction on most products with a full refund.
- Exceptions: 90 days after purchase for a refund on televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, iPod / mp3 players and cellular phones.

When it comes to returns, the week after Christmas is one of the busiest weeks of the retail year. With people's frustration high and tolerance low, so be patient when returning merchandise.


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