12 On Your Side: Fraud leads some retailers to slash gift return period

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Dec. 26, 2013


The season for giving may be over, but the season for returning and exchanging has just begun.

Novella Thomas spend a few minutes Thursday morning returning a pair of headphones. "They are just not working," said Thomas.

Headphones that Thomas said she planned to swap out at Target in Augusta. While Kevin Dickson says his children received everything they wanted, there was one minor problem with a toy. "I'm just returning this item we got because it was damaged. We're just returning it for the same thing," said Dickson.

Whatever your reason, The Better Business Bureau says nearly one-third of those who receive Christmas gifts will end up returning or exchanging at least one.

Everything from unwanted toys to electronics. But some stores have tightened their return policies by limiting the amount of time you have to return items.

That is because according to the National Retail Federation, retailers will lose $3.4 billion this year due to return fraud. "They was always ready to take it back and let me exchange or give me my money back," said Thomas. And as usual, she said Target exchanged her item.

Some big box giants have specific policies on returning merchandise. For example, Target's return policy is 90 days for most items. However, it is only 30 days on electronics starting the day after Christmas for purchases made since November 1.

Also the store may refuse a refund if you do not have a receipt, or if you have opened the packaging.

Best Buy's holiday return policy is good through January 15. The big box retailer slashed its holiday return period from last year by 9 days.

So shoppers like Dickson may find themselves coping with even shorter return periods next Christmas.

"A lot of times if it's something useful I would just keep it," said Dickson.

So if you do not act fast, you may have to find another way to part with those unwanted Christmas gifts. A couple of options include regifting the item or selling it on eBay.

To learn more about some retailer return policies you can visit consumerworld.org.

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