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Gift Return for the Holidays

So you’ve successfully made it though the holidays, hopefully without any major family squabbles or gift or gorging-related injuries. Congratulations!

But now comes the truly difficult part: Returning those unwanted holiday gifts.

I know the thought of ever going back to the mall after all of your holiday shopping may seem daunting. I know the idea of telling your mother-in-law that no, as a matter of fact you don’t want that pair of woolen underpants and would like the receipt, well that may seem downright dangerous. But rest assured, there are ways to brave the ever-menacing gift decline or return and start your new year out right. Check out our list of tips below.

And to avoid this problem in the future, simply click HERE for our list of the best andworst Christmas presents. Print it out, pass it around, and spread the joy.

1)   How to politely decline a gift: Luckily this isn’t something that we have to do often, but the instance doescome up sometimes that you’ll have to simply decline a gift in the beginning, rather than even return it.

When is this necessary?

  • If a gift is given romantically, but you’re not interested
  • The gift-giver spent way more money than they should have
  • The gift is something that you can’t/don’t want to take care of (EX: an iguana)
  • Large or inappropriate gifts from business associates
  • Any gifts from business associates, if it is against company policy

So what’s the protocol?

  • Approach your gift-giver in private and in person
  • Thank them greatly for their kindness and be careful not to embarrass them
  • Explain honestly why you can’t accept the gift
  • Give the gift back and part with no hard feelings… hopefully.

2)   How to politely ask for a receipt:More and more stores are giving customers gift receipts these days, especially around the holidays. If, however, you receive a gift without a gift receipt, you’ll have to ask your friend or family member for one in order to return it. This can be a little sticky, but there are ways to tackle it tactfully.

  • If you are returning the item because you have more than one, just tell them that you already have it and need the receipt to return it. This lets them know that you do like the gift—in fact, you like it so much that you already have one!
  • If you simply don’t like the item, really consider whether or not it is worth exchanging, and whether or not it will hurt the gift-giver’s feelings.
  • If you decide to exchange it, wait a few days to ask for the receipt.
  • Thank them for the gift and honestly and succinctly explain why you’ll exchange it (for another color, another size, just not your style…)
  • It is never socially acceptable to exchange a gift for cash.

3)   How to actually return the thing: Now that you’ve handled that whole uncomfortable getting the receipt process, you’re free to take the item back. But you’re not quite in the clear yet…

  • Check out the store’s return policy online.
  • Even if the policy doesn’t mention receipts, this is almost always the first question the sales clerk will ask you for a return. So don’t forget that receipt!
  • Do your returns during the store’s slow period (when they first open in the morning or just after lunch.)
  • Be patient. There are likely to be lines, perhaps even during the store’s slow time, just after the holidays. So prepare for this, don’t attempt to make a return if you’re in a rush, and wait like everyone else.
  • Be polite. Remember, this customer service rep has probably been dealing with holiday gift returns all day, so be sure to treat them kindly. Remember, it’s not their fault you got a gift you didn’t want!
  • Thank everyone involved in the transaction. Again, these folks deal with a lot of angry people returning gifts after the holidays so make their day a little brighter, thank them, and maybe even smile when it is all said and done.

Are you taking any gifts back this year?



Posted 12:23 PM

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