What to Do If a Store Won’t Take a Gift Back?

Whether your aunt doesn't know what size sweater you wear or has no idea that you wouldn't be caught dead in that sweater, your holiday gifts this year might not have been perfect. But a lack of perfection shouldn't be a problem — you can always return or exchange the gift, right?

Not so fast, my unfulfilled friends. Absent a clear warranty or exchange policy, returning gifts to a store may not be as easy as you think. Here's what you need to know (and do) if a store won't take back a gift.

Know the Rules

As a general rule, there's no legal right to a gift return or exchange unless the item is deceptively labeled, defective, or damaged. So it will be up to the individual store whether they will allow refunds or exchanges, and what the requirements for those will be.

Stores that do allow returns may require a receipt, and can limit the time in which returns are allowed. While some stores may be very liberal with exchanges or refunds, others may only provide store credit, only with a receipt, and only within a certain amount of time. Whatever a store's return policy, it should be clear, concise, and conspicuous. Make sure you read and you understand the store's return policy, and that you're abiding by them.

Know Your Rights

In limited circumstances, you may have a right to an exchange or refund. If a store sold you (or a gift-giver) a mislabeled product, gave or shipped the wrong product, or otherwise botched the sale, you might be entitled to the originally intended gift. And if the gift was defective or was subject to a warranty and the gift or store failed to live up to the warranty, you may have a case for a refund.

The first step to enforcing your consumer rights for a gift return is documenting the sale. If you are the gift-giver, be sure to keep the receipt or confirmation of sale (If you're worried about revealing the price of the gift, stores will often print a gift receipt that has all of the purchase information except the price.) If you're on the receiving end of a gift, don't be afraid to ask for a receipt or confirmation — it might be your only hope of a return. Also, make sure you adhere to the warranty and return policy of the store. Failing to do so may forfeit your right of return.

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