Gift return gotchas

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

NATIONWIDE -- It's the thought that counts, but sometimes that thought misses the mark. If you're hitting the mall or trekking to the post office to return a holiday gift this week, there are some gift return pitfalls you need to known about.

Returning a gift seems like it should be a simple task, but with some items there can be a few strings attached, especially among some of the most popular gifts of the season.

"Electronics are really tricky because there are restocking fees associated with electronics," Shop Smart Magazine Senior Editor Jody Rohlena explained. "They're popular gifts this time of year. Many retailers will charge you a little portion of the purchase prices, 15 percent, 20 percent, whether you've opened it or not. "

Consumer Reports recommends reviewing a retailers' return policy before heading to the mall, and keeping the following in mind.


  • Gift receipts will make your transaction much easier, and some stores won't accept returns without one.
  • Not all purchases made online can be returned at a brick-and-mortar store.
  • Some gift cards can't be returned, or won't amount to a cash refund. If items were purchased at a store's outlet, they may not be returnable.
  • If an item comes with a free or bonus gift, that usually has to be returned, too.

"You might not be able to return the something you paid for, without the freebie you didn't pay for," Rohlena said. "So if you got a package deal, bring everything back to the store, just to be safe."