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Christmas is over, holiday shopping returns begin

Consumer Investigations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Now that Christmas is over, comes the task of returning those unwanted gifts.

Holiday shopping this year was unlike any other, and this year’s returns will also be different according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The National Retail Federation’s Annual Holiday Consumer Survey found 68% of consumers will most likely continue to shop this week, and 27% plan to use gift cards.

If you have a gift card and the business or restaurant has suddenly shut down, Kristy dosReis from the R.I. Attorney General’s Office says they must refund unused gift certificates when they go out of business, even if that closure was due to COVID-19.

dosReis also said if you aren’t satisfied with the response from the business, you can file a complaint with the AG’s office by emailing the Consumer Protection Division or calling (401) 274-4400.  

While some consumers will continue to hit the sales, the National Retail Federation reports 55% of consumers plan to return items within 30 days after receiving them.

“Stores are not legally required to accept exchanges or give refunds unless the merchandise was defective or misrepresented it,” Paula Fleming from the BBB said.

Fleming added that COVID-19 has caused some stores to adjust their return policies to 90 days.

Here are some businesses with extended 90 day return policies:

  • Target — 90 days most unopened items
  • Walmart — 90 days most items, excludes electronics
  • Macy’s — 90 days on most returns

The coronavirus pandemic caused the holidays to be vastly different this year, with state officials encouraging families to stay home, forcing some to send gifts through the mail.

“Practice patience right now because unfortunately there is a lot of backlog from the postal service,” Fleming said.

Fleming urges consumers to keep receipts and shipping information just in case you don’t receive the gift within the return timeframe.

“That’s why we encourage people to use one credit card for online purchases,” Fleming said. “You can go through your credit card and dispute the charge and return the product that way.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Providence

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