BBB: Avoiding unhappy returns

Published on Saturday, 30 December 2017 14:14 - Written by

The holiday season is coming to an end and many may be heading back to stores to returns orexchanges. Returning an item can be frustrating especially if you aren’t aware of the company’s return

policy. Refund and exchange policies are not required by law so it’s best to know before heading to the

counter. Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas (BBB) cautions consumers that in Texas,returns and exchanges are privileges a business provides and not a consumer’s right.

Some retailers make return policies more lenient during the holiday season, while others may tighten their return policies to account for an increase in return fraud. According to National Retail Federation’s 2017 Organized Retail Crime Survey, 13 percent of holiday sales will be returned and of those 11 percent will likely be fraud.

Refund and exchange policies are not required by law in Texas. So, it’s best to know the store’s policy before spending your money, as it’s a tough lesson to learn at the counter.

BBB offers the following tips for hassle-free returns and exchanges:

- Read the product warranty. The retail store may not be liable if the product turns up defective ordamaged. You may be required to mail the product directly to the manufacturer in order to receivemonetary refunds, credit or product replacement.

- Monitor the “return clock.” Many retailers may only allow returns within a certain time frameand that time frame usually begins when the item is purchased, not when it is given. You don’thave to brave the crowds the day after opening gifts, but don’t wait too long to return the item.

- Understand return policies. Return policies for sale, clearance or “as is” merchandise may notapply or may be different than merchandise sold at full price.

- Ask about return shipping fees. Be sure to read return policies when buying online to find out ifyou have to pay a return shipping fee. Sometimes merchandise can be returned to a storeinstead of the online merchant.

- Keep your receipts. If you are giving the purchase as a gift, ask for a gift receipt and enclose itwith the present. This will facilitate returning the gift.

- Bring identification. Because of return fraud, some retailers will ask for identification whenmaking a return. If you’re returning or exchanging a gift that you bought, bring the credit cardused to make that purchase.

- Keep the box. Some stores will not accept returns unless the merchandise is in its originalpackaging.

- If all else fails, re-gift. If you get a gift that is non-returnable, recycle it by giving it to someoneelse, sell it online through a classified site or donate it to a charity.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704.