As the song says, "It's the most wonderful time of the year."
But if it's not wonderful enough, you can return it.
"You're going to get a lot of items you're not going to use, you're not going to wear," said Amy Tomashefski from Cleveland. She knows returns are important to shoppers, and especially to her. "I tend to shop at stores that have a good return policy because I tend to change my mind all the time," she told us.
We talked with Founder of ConsumerWorld.org Edgar Dworsky who told us Target just added a one-year exchange or refund policy to its own brand of products while Sears is cracking down a bit by doing away with its 30/60/90 day returns. Now, most Sears items have to be returned in 30 days, especially electronics.
"If you leave them out there for 90 days and it comes back in, that's yesterday's technology," said Dworsky. “I think they want to get things back quicker so they can turn it around quicker and sell them to somebody else.”
Dworsky pointed out Target REDcard holders get 30 extra days for returns and Best Buy gives elite members more time. "Elite customers always get the red carpet rolled out for them," said Dworsky.
When it comes to on-line returns, this year nearly 50 percent of retailers surveyed are offering free returns—places like Old Navy, Amazon and Macy's, to name a few. "Nothing works like the word 'free'. Free shipping. Free returns. That's magic to consumers' ears," Dworsky said with a smile.
If you don't have a receipt, Walmart will give you cash for items under $25 bucks and a gift card or even exchange for more than $25. However, you only get three non-receipt returns in a 45-day window.
"That's one of the big problems in the industry: they have people who abuse return policies,” Dworsky emphasized.
We asked shoppers if they think people look at the return policies. “Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t,” said Devon Vincent from Cleveland.
What about receipts? Are consumers keeping them? “I don't think they are. I work in retail and a lot of people are surprised when they can't return things,” said Susan White from Cleveland.
Does Tomashefski keep her receipts? "I try, but…I think most of the time you get the receipt and you throw it into the trash."
Don't do that. Get them now and hold onto them before you give your gift so people won't have a tough time with returns.
Here’s more info about many individual stores’ return policies.