DATCP: Deck the Halls with Gift Receipts

Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2012 --- 12:55 p.m.

Press Release form DATCP:

MADISON – The holidays are a time for giving…and returning. The National Retail Federation estimated last holiday season that consumers would return more than $46 billion in products over the course of the season. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) suggests that consumers learn how refunds and returns work before they buy gifts for friends and loved ones.

“Different stores have different return policies, and some stores even have different policies for different items,” said Sandy Chalmers, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection. “The only way to avoid return and exchange surprises for gift recipients is to do your research on the stores’ policies before you even start to shop.”

The main thing to remember during your holiday shopping is to keep your receipts safe and to ask for gift receipts at the time of purchase. Some stores will not accept a return without a receipt or may only give you back cash or store credit for the item’s lowest sale price. Imagine that you paid $100 for a gift that was on sale for $80 at some point, but you did not include a gift receipt in the box for your loved one. If that recipient needs to return the item without a receipt, he or she will only receive $80 in cash or store credit for the exchange, not the full $100 you spent.

Most retailers have stricter return policies, including shorter return periods, for electronics, software and DVDs.

A note for web shoppers: a retailer’s online return policies may differ from its in-store policies. While most big box retailers will accept in-store returns on products purchased off their websites, make sure you read the policies on each retailer’s website to ensure that you do not run into any unexpected issues. Before you buy an item, it is also helpful to find out who pays for return shipping – the customer or the store – if you must return your online purchase by mail.

DATCP offers the following tips to make your holiday returns and exchanges merry:

-Provide a gift receipt or sales slip when giving a gift. At the very least, leave the price tag on the item – cut off the price and leave the rest of the information on the tag.
-A restocking fee may apply to returns (mostly on electronic items). Keep the item in its original packaging material and unopened if possible. If the item is in new condition, there is a better chance you will not be charged a restocking or packing fee.
-Know the limited time frame for a return. Make your returns quickly.
-Understand the conditions when buying items on clearance or sale. Some stores may not accept returns on these items, making a good deal not so great.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

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