Return rights

November 18, 2009 3:29:35 PM PST
It's hard enough finding the right gift for someone at the holiday season. And sometimes we get it wrong. That's when returns and refunds come into play. The key is to find out the store's return policy before you make the purchase - so neither you nor the person you are giving to is disappointed.

"What's your refund policy?" That's the first question you should ask when buying a gift.

With the downturn in the economy, return policies are getting tighter.

Many stores have time limits and require receipts with returns.

Tod Marks with Consumer Reports says, "The reality is that many retailers are worried about theft, their margins are tighter than ever because business is tough."

Also, return policies can vary widely from store to store. Marks added, "Short windows of opportunity, restocking fees, how many hoops do you have to jump through. Does it have its original tags? Are you allowed to take it out of the box and put it back or must it be in the box in an unopened state?"

Eyewitness News checked out a few of the larger retailers. At one Bed Bath and Beyond, we found the return policy to be fairly liberal.

They had no specific return policy and said it did not matter if the item was opened, all they required was a receipt.

The Home Depot had no trouble taking back the drill we bought, but their receipt says they can limit or deny returns.

We found out that means, nothing ordered online can be taken back to a store. At Staples, they'll take almost anything back, but technology, like computers, and furniture are limited to just 14 days.

At Macy's, be careful buying rings. If a ring has to be sized to fit, you can't return it. Also there's a catch. They only carry one women's size, a size 7.

So find out the return policy before you buy, it's supposed to be posted at the register, hold onto the receipt and if it's a gift, get a special gift receipt.

It won't have the amount you paid on it, and the person you gave it to should be able to return or exchange it.