Every year we spend Christmas opening gifts our loved ones carefully picked out and wrapped for us, but even though it's the thought that counts, sometimes that thought ends up becoming clutter you don't want.
Whether it's just something you don't need, don't want, or don't have room for, a lot of people around the country end up receiving gifts that they have to return. But how so you do it in the easiest way possible?
Here are some tips to make your post-Christmas customer service experiences a little bit less painful.
Check the return policy first - you might have more time than you thought.
A lot of people rush out on December 26th to return or exchange all of the things they don't want, but that's not always the best bet. Stores are jam-packed full of shoppers looking for those great Boxing Day sales so staff are too busy to give you much attention.
If possible, check the receipts of the items (if you have it) or you could check the store's website for their return policy. Many stores offer you 30, 60, or even 90 days to return something.
Some stores even extend their policies for the Christmas season, which means you'll have a couple of extra weeks so you can wait for the crowds to die down.
Know when to go.
Knowing when to head to the mall is a big part of making the return process bearable. It's going to get busy with those sale shoppers if you go on a weekend or in the days following Christmas and New Year's when everyone is still off from work.
If you can, try to limit your returning adventures to the early mornings, right when the store opens and shortly before the crowds come in. Another option is to go in the evening, after everyone else has already left for dinner. If the store is open late, go later.
Try to get the original receipt, or at least a gift receipt.
While it may be a bit awkward to ask the person who gave you a gift for the receipt, it's a lot easier to process a return if you have it. Without it, you may end up receiving a lower value for the item.
Exchange instead of return.
If possible, see if you can exchange the item for another size or color. In many stores it's a lot easier to exchange something than it is to return. They may be more willing to give you what you want if you won't end up losing them a sale.
Have your ID handy.
Some stores require an ID to return things, so while you probably have it in your wallet, double check that you have it before you get all the way to the store.
Most importantly: Be nice.
It's probably the most simple trick in the book, but a smile, friendly tone, and understanding nature is going to make the associate want to help you a lot more than if you are rude or pushy.
While a lot of places have return policies, every store has the right to make their own, so it's not like you can compare a small mom-and-pop shop to a large corporate store. Getting annoyed at the associate is almost never going to accomplish what you want it to.
Instead, be patient and understanding with them and they may be more willing to help you out, even if the policy isn't on your side. Chances are they've had a really busy couple of days and your friendly attitude may be enough of a surprise that they will really appreciate it.