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Better Business Bureau: Tips For Happy Holiday Returns

The holiday season is ending, and many may be heading back to stores for refunds or exchanges. According to the National Retail Federation, it will be a hectic return season, with approximately $816 billion in product returns forecasted by the end of the year. However, the Better Business Bureau serving (BBB) Central East Texas reminds consumers that the state does not require refund and exchange policies by law, so it’s best to know before heading to the counter.

“Returning an item can be inconvenient and frustrating,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President, and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas, said. “However, familiarizing the company’s return policy beforehand can help alleviate some of the stress.”

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

  • Read the product warranty. The retail store may not be liable for defective or damaged products. You may be required to mail the product directly to the manufacturer to receive monetary refunds, credit, or product replacement.
  • Monitor the “return clock.” Many retailers may only allow returns within a specific time frame and that time frame usually begins when the item is purchased, not when you receive it. You don’t have 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 not apply or may be different than merchandise sold at the total price.
  • Ask about return shipping fees. Be sure to read return policies when buying online to find out if you have to pay a return shipping fee. Sometimes merchandise can be returned to a store instead of the online merchant.
  • Keep the box and the receipt. Some stores will only accept returns if the merchandise is in its original packaging, with a purchase receipt. Some stores will either provide store credit or not accept the return.
  • Bring identification. Because of return fraud, some retailers will ask for identification when making a return. If you’re returning or exchanging a gift that you bought, bring the credit card used to make that purchase.
  • Suppose all else fails, re-gift or donate. If you get a non-returnable gift, recycle it by giving it to someone else, sell it online through a classified site or donate it to a charity.

BBB also reminds businesses to have a simple written return and exchange policy and be consistent in its implementation. Develop an approach that works for your business and makes it visible to your customers. Make sure your employees are aware of the policy.

Remember, even a customer’s return experience is a chance to develop a loyal patron for your business.

For more holiday tips, visit the BBB Holiday Tips page. For other information on becoming a savvy consumer, go to To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker. 

About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. In addition, BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit for more details. They founded BBB Serving Central East Texas in 1985, covering 19 counties.