How to return gifts with help from the Web

December 27, 2012

With another Christmas in the books, it’s now the time for those occasional not-so-great presents to find their way back to their original stores. In other words, it’s return season.

In some cases, the Web makes returns much more smooth. Many retail workers dread return season almost as much -- if not more -- than holiday shopping season, as lines of less-than-satisfied customers fill up stores. So being able to return items with help from your home computer, or at least using the Web to do a little research, can help peace of mind.

In many cases shoppers can print return labels at home to send in gifts that weren’t quite right. Users can also use the Web to find out if there are stores where they can drop off returned items -- and check out those return policies as well.

One thing to remember about returning gifts on your own, however, is that normal fees -- such as restocking fees -- apply in this case as well. It’s also a good idea to find out if you have to pick up the shipping fees for a return package yourself, or if the company you buy from will do it for you.

You should also remember that the same return policies about opening items also apply to online purchases, even if it seems unfair that you couldn’t try on a sweater before getting it. This is particularly true of CDs, movies and software. And when packing techy gifts, double-check to make sure that everything that came out of the package goes back in -- few companies have the good humor to overlook a forgotten cord or adapter.

Which gadgets and games deserved a spot under the tree? Post technology reporter Hayley Tsukayama discussed five gifts to consider this holiday season. (The Fold/The Washington Post)

In most cases, you’ll need the shipping label or receipt that came with your gift to use online return centers. Most stores will also keep the fact you returned your gift a secret from your gift-giver.

When it comes to digital gifts, it can be a bit trickier to return. In fact, in most cases they simply can’t be returned.

Digital gifts such as subscriptions are, more, often than not, essentially gift cards. And like physical gift cards, they cannot be returned -- in fact, sending in an item for return will often get you a gift card to that particular store. With some gifts such as Kindle e-books, companies will let users switch one title for another or return a book for online store credit.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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December 27, 2012

With another Christmas in the books, it’s now the time for those occasional not-so-great presents to find their way back to their original stores. In other words, it’s return season.

In some cases, the Web makes returns much more smooth. Many retail workers dread return season almost as much -- if not more -- than holiday shopping season, as lines of less-than-satisfied customers fill up stores. So being able to return items with help from your home computer, or at least using the Web to do a little research, can help peace of mind.

In many cases shoppers can print return labels at home to send in gifts that weren’t quite right. Users can also use the Web to find out if there are stores where they can drop off returned items -- and check out those return policies as well.

One thing to remember about returning gifts on your own, however, is that normal fees -- such as restocking fees -- apply in this case as well. It’s also a good idea to find out if you have to pick up the shipping fees for a return package yourself, or if the company you buy from will do it for you.

You should also remember that the same return policies about opening items also apply to online purchases, even if it seems unfair that you couldn’t try on a sweater before getting it. This is particularly true of CDs, movies and software. And when packing techy gifts, double-check to make sure that everything that came out of the package goes back in -- few companies have the good humor to overlook a forgotten cord or adapter.

Which gadgets and games deserved a spot under the tree? Post technology reporter Hayley Tsukayama discussed five gifts to consider this holiday season. (The Fold/The Washington Post)

In most cases, you’ll need the shipping label or receipt that came with your gift to use online return centers. Most stores will also keep the fact you returned your gift a secret from your gift-giver.

When it comes to digital gifts, it can be a bit trickier to return. In fact, in most cases they simply can’t be returned.

Digital gifts such as subscriptions are, more, often than not, essentially gift cards. And like physical gift cards, they cannot be returned -- in fact, sending in an item for return will often get you a gift card to that particular store. With some gifts such as Kindle e-books, companies will let users switch one title for another or return a book for online store credit.

Sign up today to receive #thecircuit, a daily roundup of the latest tech policy news from Washington and how it is shaping business, entertainment and science.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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