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Tips for returning holiday gifts

December 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Holiday shopping has ended, but that doesn't mean the stores will be quiet this week.

Many local malls are still opening early Monday for all the people bringing in holiday returns.

Retailers are expecting a 4-percent increase in returns, totaling about $46 billion worth of merchandise.

So if you're one of those people who's less than thrilled with your gifts, what do you need to know about returning them?

The gifts we receive during the holidays aren't always a perfect fit, or a perfect match.

If you plan to return items, you'll want to have a receipt.

"Without a receipt or a gift receipt, you're going to get back either a merchandise credit, or you're going to be reimbursed the lowest amount the item sold for, not necessarily what you paid for it," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports.

Keep stickers, labels and tags intact. Some stores will charge a restocking fee, and in the case of some electronics, a repackaging fee, if they'll take an opened item back at all.

"You want to be sure not to open the packaging if you're not sure you want it. Because again, you can leave all the tags and all the labels on the item, but if you destroy the packaging or rip it apart, you'll have a much more difficult time returning it," said Marks.

Most retailers will list the terms of their return policy on your receipt. And if that still doesn't make it clear, ask someone in the store when you check out. Some retailers will allow merchandise purchased online to be returned or exchanged in their brick-and-mortar stores. Read the policy on their website for details.

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