‘Tis the return season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2011

JCPenney associate Breanna Mayhall was working diligently Monday to restock all the returned holiday gifts.

The mounds of items on the counter at the Andalusia JCPenney store continued to grow as the day progressed and local residents returned the unwanted items.

The site was a familiar one around the county at retailers such as Burkes, Catos, Factory Connection and Goody’s.

Breanna Mayhall, a JCPenney associate, was busy running back and forth to return the clothing items to racks.

She said without a receipt, credit will be given for the item’s lowest ticketed price, and a with a receipt from within 90 days, a full refund.

At the Andalusia Walmart Supercenter, there are four dedicated registers for handling returns, said JoLynne Cox, assistant manager.

“They can visit registers 16-19, and you must have a valid driver’s license,” Cox said. “Also, if you do have a receipt, bring it. It seems to make the process easier and quicker.”

According to the company’s website, most items can be exchanged or refunded with a receipt within 90 days of purchase. Without a receipt, shoppers have the option of a cash refund for purchases under $25, a gift card for the amount of the purchase, for purchases over $25, or an even exchange for the product. Walmart also follows any manufacturer’s warranties, and shoppers can make up to three “no receipt” returns within a 45-day period.

To minimize the hassle of post-holiday returns, the Better Business Bureau advises shoppers to ask about retailers’ return policies before heading out into the crowds. Some stores provide refunds, others only issue store credits, and a few consider all sales to be final. Stores also aren’t legally required to accept items for refund, exchange, or credit unless goods were defective or misrepresented.

The BBB reminds shoppers to know their return rights before making a purchase – it’s always better to ask than to assume, and the following tips can help shoppers avoid post-holiday frustration:

• Don’t take it out of the box or remove the tags.

• Know the store’s return policy. It’s easier to do a little research online to find out how a specific store is handling its holiday returns. Look for a posted return policy when shopping online. If returns are permitted, ask what procedures and time frames need to be followed. Find out whether shipping fees are charged for returning items and whether shipping costs or restocking fees are deducted from the price of returned items. And do not assume that regular return policies apply to sale or clearance items.

• Ask about restocking fees. Some merchants charge a restocking or “open box” fee for returns of electronic products or large-ticket items. A restocking fee can be as high as 25 percent of the purchase.

• Time your returns to avoid hassles. Return lines can be lengthy the day after Christmas, but don’t wait too long to return items. Pick a time when the store is unlikely to be crowded, and be polite when talking to customer service clerks. If you are a regular customer or have a store credit account, mention that as you discuss return options. Merchants are usually willing to accommodate loyal customers.