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Return policies more lenient this holiday

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BOSTON (12/22/08)--Good news for shoppers: Expect the majority of stores this holiday season to implement more lenient return policies, making for happier returns (ConsumerWorld.org Dec. 15). Reversing a trend of more restrictive policies in recent years, some stores this year have reduced restocking fees and extended deadlines for returns, according to results from the ConsumerWorld.org annual return policy survey. That’s not the case for all stores; some retailers continue using shortened return periods, or no refunds at all, so it pays to ask before you pull out your wallet. And many stores require stricter return policies for electronics than for, say, clothing--referred to as a tiered return policy. To increase your chances of experiencing a no-hassle return in the coming weeks, follow guidelines from the National Retail Federation:
* Ask about returns before you buy. If the policy is not prominently displayed, ask a sales associate or manager to explain it to you. * Save all receipts. Don’t expect retailers to exchange merchandise without a receipt. Without one, your request to return an item may be denied, or you may be given credit for the lowest price the item was sold for during the holiday season. * Ask for gift receipts. Include the gift receipt in the wrapped gift making it easier for recipients to do their own exchange. * Give gifts in original packaging, with tags. Resist the urge to open a sealed package or play with the item. * Know the return policy for online purchases. Ask who pays for shipping the return, where you make the return, and whether there’s a service center that handles returns.
For more information, read “What Happens to Unused Gift Card Cash?” in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.