LEXINGTON, Ky. – Did you receive a sweater for Christmas that’s too small? Three copies of the same movie on DVD? Chances are you will be among those who are now trying to return or exchange gifts at retailers this week. Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky reminds you that sellers have policies in place to protect their businesses from “return fraud” as well as make customers happy.
In 2017, 28 percent of us returned a holiday gift, with clothing topping the list. But with holiday returns also comes holiday return fraud. Return fraud comes in many forms, including purchasing merchandise for short-term use and then returning the item, returning stolen merchandise, or using reused, stolen or falsified receipts to return merchandise for a profit.
But in most cases, consumers are just trying to return wrong sizes or items. Many retailers, both online and brick and mortar, have return policies in place to not only protect the consumer but their businesses as well. If you have something that needs to be returned, BBB offers the following tips for returning holiday gifts:
- Know and understand the seller’s return policy. Most stores list return policies their website or on the back of the receipt. Make sure you fully understand what is required for a return or exchange, and if you have questions, call the store directly to ask about your specific situation. Brick and mortar stores may have different return policies than online counterparts.
- Keep the receipt. If you were given a gift receipt with a gift, it can be easier for you to return or exchange the gift if it’s not quite right.
- Keep original packaging and ask about restocking fees. Some stores may require products be returned in original purchase condition, unused or unopened. In addition, some merchants charge a restocking or “open box” fee for returns of electronic products or large-ticket items. Make sure you read about these policies and ask questions through email or live chats to make sure you understand the policy.
- Bring identification. Because of return fraud, some retailers will ask for identification when making a return.
- Read product warranty first. In some cases, retail stores are not liable if the product is defective or damaged. They may require consumers to mail the product directly to the manufacturer in order to receive monetary refunds, credit or product replacement.
- Don’t delay. In almost every case, stores require you to return within a specific time frame. If you wait too long, you may miss your chance.
If you still encounter a problem with a return or exchange and need further assistance, contact your BBB for advice at (859) 259-1008 or file a complaint online at www.bbb.org.
Consumers may report scams to BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker.