I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: The best time and way to return gifts

Wednesday, January 2, 2019
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- With the holiday shopping season over, we're smack dab in the middle of return season.

Some experts estimate by the end of this month, as many as 45% of you will have tried to take at least one Christmas present back.

I-TEAM's Meredith Anderson found the best time for you to brave the crowds.

Experts say this time of day is not it. People are getting off work and trying to squeeze in a return on the way home. That makes for a lot of traffic in stores and on the road.

'Tis the season to exchange gifts from your gift exchanges.

Valerie Kimmel: I did buy something for my sister, and she decided she didn't want it. Some kind of air fryer.

Shaneiwka Lafavor: We took it back to exchange it for a better color sock. 'Cause we didn't have anything to go with the socks. Laughs.

Major retailers aren't laughing, though, when it comes to a different type of return and this one costs us all in the end.

In a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, more than 90% of companies surveyed said they had been a victim of organized retail crime in the last year.

That's when two or more people make money off retailers by scamming them. One way they do it is with fraudulent returns.

The National Retail Federation estimates this year, 10% of all returns will be fraudulent. That translates to a loss in revenue that eventually gets passed on to us, the customer.

Great.

So maybe a gift card is the answer in more ways than one.

Mike Ekre: a gift card will help them get what they need.
Meredith Anderson: and nobody returns a gift card.
Mike Ekre: no, no, that's probably right. I guess they occasionally forget they have it. I've done that. You've probably done that, too.

Yep. Sure have.

There is no federal law on the books about organized retail crime, but 34 states have one including both Georgia and South Carolina, hopefully making sure you're standing in the return line with someone like her.

Valerie Kimmel: I had overbought for two people, so I was having to return some items to keep the number even for friends.
Meredith Anderson: how do I get on your Christmas list then? Laughs
Valerie Kimmel: it's not hard.

It was hard finding a lot of people who don't like their presents.

Bryant Martie: I never return actual gifts. I never return gifts."

After all, it's the thought that counts.

Laura Thomas: It's nice that people think about you and give you something. So I generally like everything people give me.

But if you need a different size or color, or you just don't like the gift, experts say the best time to return something is Monday or Tuesday morning or at any point on Sunday. Those tend to be the least busy.

Experts predict organized retail crime will go up by 7% this year. They say some of that is because of the ease of selling stolen goods online, gift card fraud, and a shortage of staff in stores.