According to the National Retail Federation, $158 billion worth of merchandise sold during the holiday season ends up being returned.
Before you waste time and money, 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has tips for many happy returns.
First, and most important: don't delay.
Some return windows can be as short as just 14 days from the date of purchase.
Additionally, experts say don't waste time in the customer line returning that gift you don't want, first look and see what the return rules are.
"Before you come back to the store you can read the return policy on the back of the receipt or online and that will you give a better idea for how much time you have to make that return because you don't want to miss that window," consumer shopping expert Andrea Woroch said.
Second, if you didn't like that crock pot you got, don't open the box.
"You will have a better chance of avoiding those restocking fees if everything is in its original packaging," Woroch said.
That new TV may look better with the bow, but if it's out of the box you will get socked with a restocking fee for sure.
On electronics, even if the original packaging is intact most stores charge 15% of the purchase price to restock or a flat fee.
For example, Best Buy charges $45 for returning smartphones but also accepts returns on products even if you're missing a part.
The store will process a return with a nonrefundable deduction on your refunds for what's missing.
Next, make sure to keep that receipt.
Tape your gift receipt to the inside of the box or take a photo of it, but if you lost it don't let that stop you from trying.
Some stores don't require it but just make sure you bring a valid ID and know that stores can refuse returns without receipts to cut down on fraud.
If you bought something online, see if you can return it at the retail outlet.
"It's better to return it in-store if they have a physical location near you. This way you can avoid those shipping fees," Woroch said.
Big retailers like J.Crew charge $7.50 for a prepaid label to return by mail, Abercrombie and Fitch charges $7 if you don't return the item in person, and many others have followed suit because returns cost retailers in fuel and labor to process.
Also if you're unsure about a clothing item do not wear it.
Retail expert Gina Curko says sales people will give apparel the sniff test.
"Most retailers will say they will take it back in the condition that we sold it to you in without a smell, without a cooking smell all of those things retailers take into play so you want to make sure you really don't wear it," Curko said.
If you get store credit only, supersize that exchange and get more for your money
"By looking for items that are on sale or clearance and then looking for coupons to use on top of it," Woroch said.
Plus each year millions go unspent on gift cards if you got one for a store you don't like sell or swap them online or better yet donate the card to your favorite charity.
One last option is to regift instead of return.
You'll save time and money if you save that gift and give it to someone else during the year.
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