The holiday season is drawing to a close and many could be returning to stores for refunds or exchanges. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) Retail Safety Survey, the retail industry will lose an estimated $ 3.5 billion due to retail fraud over the holiday season 2021. The Better Business Bureau serving East Central Texas (BBB) reminds consumers that in Texas refund and exchange policies are not required by law, so it’s best to find out before going to the counter.
“Returning an item can be embarrassing and frustrating,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “However, familiarizing yourself with the company’s return policy in advance 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 cannot be held responsible if the product is found to be defective or damaged. You may need to ship the product directly to the manufacturer in order to receive monetary refunds, credit, or product replacement.
Watch for the “back clock”. Many retailers may only allow returns within a certain time frame and that time frame usually begins when the item is purchased, not when it is donated. You don’t have to brave the crowds the day after the giveaways open, but don’t wait too long to return the item.
Understand the return policies. Return policies for sale, customs clearance, or “as is” merchandise may not apply or may be different from full-price merchandise.
Ask about return shipping costs. Be sure to read the return policies when purchasing online to find out if you owe any return shipping costs. Sometimes merchandise can be returned to a store instead of the online merchant.
Save the box and receipt. Some stores will only accept returns if the merchandise is in its original packaging. Without a receipt, some stores will only provide store credit or not accept the return at all.
Bring ID. Due to return fraud, some retailers will ask for identification when making a return. If you are returning or exchanging a gift you purchased, bring the credit card used to make that purchase.
If all else fails, re-giveaway. If you receive a gift that cannot be returned, recycle it by giving it to someone else, sell it online through a classifieds site, or donate it to charity.
BBB also reminds companies to have a simple written return and exchange policy and to be consistent in its implementation. Develop a policy that works for your business and make sure it’s visible to your customers. Make sure your employees are aware of the policy. Remember that even the return experience of a customer is a chance to develop a loyal customer to your business.
BBB is a business-backed, non-profit organization that sets and maintains high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB consumer services are free. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB company profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on matters affecting market confidence. Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.