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BBB Release: BBB Tips on Returning Gifts

Anchorage, Alaska Dec. 28, 2010 – Doesn't fit. Not my style. Already have one…

Not all gifts satisfy. And some may be difficult to return: No tag, no receipt, and in some cases, no store to trace it to. Regardless, millions of determined consumers will be battling long lines at shopping malls, department stores and other retailers over the next few months to exchange or return unwanted merchandise.

Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington offers tips:

· Policies: Return and exchange policies vary: some merchants do not return or exchange merchandise; some only issue in-store credits; others offer full cash refunds. Policies may differ for seasonal, clearance or sale items. Stores are only legally required to refund or exchange defective or misrepresented merchandise.

· Returns: If possible, leave items in original packaging—especially electronics—and avoid removing tags. Although many stores are accommodating on holiday returns, consumers with no receipts or tags may not be able to return items If a gift receipt is not enclosed with the present, it may be necessary to ask the gift giver where the item was purchased and find out if they still have a receipt.

· Guarantees: A "Satisfaction Guarantee" implies that the seller will authorize a full refund on unwanted or defective merchandise; if that is not the case, marketers should avoid using those terms or specify restrictions within the guarantee. Information on returns, exchanges and refunds should be publicly posted on the company's website, marketing collateral, or at their storefront location.

· Time limits. Pay attention to return expiration dates. Most time limits start at the purchase date, not the date the gift is received.

· Gift cards: Most retailers won't take back unwanted gift cards. There are third-party websites that allow consumers to resell gift cards for cash; most charge a small fee and offer between 50 and 90 percent of the gift card value. First, research companies with BBB and online.

· Refunds: Many stores refund items purchased by credit card by issuing a credit back to the buyer's card. When returning an item, explain that it was a gift and ask the store to pay cash or in-store credit—instead of refunding the buyer.

· In-store credits: If issued an in-store credit or gift card, make sure to get a receipt with the balance printed on it.

· Attitude: Be polite. Let the representative know what you're looking for: repair, exchange or refund. Regular store shoppers should mention their loyalty.

If a retailer isn't honoring a published policy, present the issue to a store manager. If the issue isn't resolved, file a complaint by visiting www.bbb.org.

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