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Returning gifts is not a given: 7 things you should know

December, 2010

After all the work we do trying to buy the right gift for the right person, inevitably one has to be returned – but can it be? Can you just expect to be able to return a gift? Surprisingly, the answer is no.

1. A purchase is like a contract you have made with a store. They choose the terms of their return policy. It is up to each business to decide, and not consumer law. Don’t assume when you buy something that you can give it back and get your money.

2. The store can offer an exchange or refund. The return window of opportunity can be one week, one month or not at all. They can say that all sales are final.

3. How can the customer know this? There are consumer laws stores must follow for return policies. They must post a sign near the cash register or behind the counter, or place the information on the receipt.

4. Before you make your purchase, ask the store what their policy is. Often after Christmas, there’s more leniency. Some stores even have a gift stamp they can place on their receipt that will allow you to return the item months later, if you are an early shopper.

5. If the product is broken, it’s a different story. A defective product has to be returned to the manufacturer, and depending on the retailer’s policy, it may be up to you to find out whether you or they have do this.

6. Just remember when you are in return mode, you want this person to help you. Don’t be rude or super aggressive, and make sure you are talking to the person who has the authority to remedy the situation. Humour and politeness go a long way toward making things work in your favour.

7. When things don’t go the way you expected, you can always write a polite note to the manufacturer on their website. These days, when a consumer can post anything they want on consumer websites and companies can no longer can control the message about their product, they are more likely to try to find a solution.



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