My 5 tips on Surviving Holiday Returns



Why is it always so much fun to shop and so annoying doing a return? Well, during this time of power shopping, it’s extra important to be on top of the holiday return policies so you don’t get stuck with a gift you can’t return.  Here are a few simple tips and personal examples that I am sharing to try and help you keep your sanity and your money safe.


My 5 Tips to Simple Holiday Returning

#1. Know the Policy & Last Day to Return. Most stores offer extended holiday returning (usually the first week of January) and almost no ones takes returns on Boxing Day. Find out when the last day for returns and exchanges is so you can tell the person who gets the gift. It’s up to you to find out each store’s holiday return policy before you purchase. Some are posted behind the cash registers but I usually just ask so I can ask questions and clarify as they are sometimes confusing. The policies are different from store to store and some don’t offer full refunds, only credit notes. I avoid those stores as I find that policy works in their favour, not mine and frankly, that’s not consumer friendly. Some policies are strange too, as I found out during my travels. I like these stores but don’t like these particular policies…

Personal Examples of Strange Policies: 

  • * The Children’s Place – After 45 days, The Children’s Place will only offer you a gift card (this I found to be reasonable as I waited too long) BUT even if you have the receipt proving the price you paid, they will only give you the last sale price on that item. So even though I paid $34.99, I now get a gift card for $15.99 which I did not like and you won’t either.
  • *Aeropostale – If you ask for a Gift Receipt with your purchase, the person receiving it CAN NOT get a full refund on that item — only a store credit. BUT if you get a regular receipt instead, you can get your money back 100%. So why would anyone even want a gift receipt? Very strange policy..


#2. Proper storage. Don’t store receipts in the bags — ask for them and put them directly in your purse or other folder for safe keeping. It’s too easy for the bag to be thrown out with the receipt stuck inside leaving you stuck. It’s a simple step but an important one.

#3. Be organized. Write the name of the person and the gift name at top of the receipt before you store it. It only takes a few seconds at the cash counter and it will make it so much easier later on when sorting through the pile.

#4. Create a Special Folder. Keep all your receipts in a special envelope or folder labeled, for example, Christmas 2012. I then keep this envelope in my purse so that it’s there when I need it. If you are a super savvy shopper you might notice something you have already bought going on sale before December 25th and they should refund you the difference simply by showing your receipt. (if not, just return it and rebuy it).  No matter what, it’s best to keep them handy at all times since there is nothing worse than waiting in the long Customer Service Desk line only to find that you left the receipt at home. Been there – done that.

#5. Giving the gift receipt to the receiver. I used to include the gift receipt with my gift but from experience, I’ve learned that it can easily get lost in the shuffle of wrapping paper and end up in the garbage. Now I keep it in a safe spot until after the opening frenzy is over. I then hand it to the person at a quiet moment so they can put it in their wallet or purse or some safe place. Once you hand it over, it’s their responsibility and you can relax. If you have any suspicion that someone might not like the gift, I think it’s a nice gesture to hand it over with a smile adding “I will not be offended in any way if you want to return it”. Some people are just too polite and are embarrassed to ask for a receipt even if they hate your gift and nobody wins there.

 If you do lose a receipt, which is inevitable, don’t panic. Most major retailers will most likely give you a gift card in this situation, sometimes at the most recent sale price and sometimes not. Whatever you get in this case you will have to accept as ‘better than nothing’ since the only alternative is that they don’t accept the return at all.

Happy Shopping!


  • Do you have any tips to share?
  • Have you encountered any strange policies this holiday season?
  • Please share so we can all learn together and become smart shoppers!

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