wisely for happy returns|
to have a system
To simplify, double up on your receipts when you shop. Get gift
receipts and regular receipts for each item (a gift receipt is similar
to the original but without the prices).
Keep the gift slips with the gifts, and keep your
own regular receipts in an envelope marked "holiday gift receipts,"
says Butler. That way, if you have to return something, you have
all the paperwork in one place.
When you give someone the gift, let them know that the gift receipt
is in the box, just in case they need to make a quick exchange,
and to prevent them from throwing it away by accident, he says.
And if you lose that all-important receipt? Don't panic. Call the
store and find out what, if anything, you can bring to document
your purchase. Given a little advance notice, sometimes retailers
can track down their copies of the receipt, says Butler.
shopping, online returning
Buying online is easy. Sometimes returning items you've bought online
is a little more complicated than point and click. One way to make
it easier: Buy from stores that also have regular retail locations.
That way you can buy online, but you (or your gift recipient) has
the option of returning items to the store, says Matisic.
You can also elect to shop on sites that offer free return shipping,
says Hillary Mendelsohn, author of "Thepurplebook: The Definitive
Guide to Exceptional Online Shopping."
Before you buy, find out what happens if someone returns a gift.
Will they get a credit? Will the site credit your card? And does
the site have a customer service telephone number in case you or
a gift recipient has a problem or question?
Timing is even more critical when it comes to buying online, because
you have to allow for shipping. "You want to see a fair amount
of time from the point the person actually receives the merchandise
to when they have to return it," says Mendelsohn. Her optimum:
14 days or more.
Look at the whole site, not just the gift
you're buying. If your loved one's taste doesn't match your own, are there other
items on this site that might appeal? This is one instance where larger sites
with more types of merchandise might have an edge over smaller, specialty-store
sites, says Mendelsohn.
for a secure locked server to protect your financial information. And always use
a credit card, not a debit card.
- Hit "print" before
you submit your order. That will give you an itemized list of everything you've
purchased and when.
- If the boxes are coming to you first
(or if you're the recipient), "keep the packaging materials," says Mendelsohn.
Some retailers will include bar codes or stickers on the boxes or plastic bags
that come with the items. Include them with returns.
- Save a copy of the packing list. It can act as
a receipt if you need it, says Mendelsohn.
Timing and attitude
What do shoppers hate most about returns? The thousands of other
shoppers out doing the same thing. So this year, be smart about
"I would avoid making the return the first couple of days
after Christmas," says Schroeder. The closer you get to the
new year, the more likely you can "save yourself a whole lot
of standing in line."
On the flip side, "the longer you wait, the less likely
sizes and colors will be available," says Butler.
When you make the
returns, ask for exactly what you want. And be prepared to ask several times if
necessary. "Don't rant and rave if it's not going your way," says Matisic.
"The key is to speak to the right person who has the authority to make the
decision to grant you what you want."
is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.