The Best Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Holiday Returns – NBC Los Angeles

While the days leading up to Christmas are often spent frantically shopping for the perfect gifts, the weeks after the holidays usually involve the stress of returning presents.

Whether you need to find a different-sized jacket or trade in a device for store credit, dealing with holiday returns can be difficult and stressful.

Amy Brightfield, Better Homes & Gardens director of health and features, joined TODAY in 2021 to share her roundup of her best tips for an easy holiday return.

Here are six ways to make your returns and exchanges go smoothly as well as some important return deadlines for major retailers.

1. Be prepared

  • Check policies
  • Check deadlines

Brightfield’s first tip was to research the store’s return policy before reaching out to return or exchange an item.

She also recommended contacting customer service ahead of time if you don’t have access to a gift receipt. The customer service representative may be able to look up the name of the person who sent the gift without a receipt.

If you forget everything else, just remember that the most important item you need to bring to the store is your ID.

2. Check return deadlines

  • Amazon: January 31, 2023
  • Maisie: January 31, 2023
  • Best Buy: January 14, 2023
  • TJ Maxx, Marshall, Homegoods: January 25, 2023
  • Kohl’s: Generally 180 days from date of purchase

Although most retailers give customers until the end of January to return holiday gifts, Brightfield said it’s best to double check the return deadline.

While Amazon allows customers to wait until January 31st, Best Buy stops accepting returns after January 14th.

Brightfield also said it pays close attention to stores that offer a number of days rather than a return deadline.

“When you see that number of days, you want to calculate that because sometimes it’s 60 days. Then, before you know it, it’s February.” “So, you want to make sure you account for the extended time because it might not be as long as you think.”

3. Bring the necessary papers

  • receipt
  • e-mail
  • order number
  • Government ID

Brightfield continued to highlight the importance of bringing government ID into the store to help the customer service rep research the purchase.

If you purchased the item online and want to return it in person, be sure to bring along proof of email that confirms the item arrived or was purchased.

4. Benefits of in-store returns

  • Instant credit/refund
  • No charging / stickers
  • Find an alternative
  • More flexible
  • Pavement rest

Although some shoppers may prefer shipping their returns or exchanges, Brightfield advised heading into the store to conduct the transaction in person if possible. It’s especially helpful to talk to a real person, rather than automated messages over the phone or email, if you don’t have any documentation or a gift receipt.

“A little magic goes a long way and also you get the payout right away,” explained Brightfield. She added that another advantage of shopping in person is that you can browse your exchange possibilities.

Brightfield also suggested that shoppers who don’t feel comfortable going into a store during the COVID-19 pandemic are taking advantage of curbside deals.

5. Benefits of online returns

  • One stop
  • free shipping
  • But it takes longer

If you’d prefer to have all your returns and exchanges done in one place, you can always finish shopping online. Be prepared to pack everything up and bring it to the post office or curbside pickup location.

However, Brightfield reminded shoppers that online returns will be difficult without a receipt or documentation. So, if you don’t have a receipt, you may have to go on that trip to the store.

6. Tips for repurchasing online in person

Some stores, such as J.Crew and Ann Taylor, allow customers to bring their online purchases into the store. Shoppers can get an instant refund or exchange without dealing with the hassle of shipping.

For those who don’t feel comfortable going to the store, Brightfield suggested participating in a gift exchange or gift donation. She said donating is a great idea this time of year, especially if you receive coats or sweaters for the holidays.

Brightfield also mentioned sending messages to the Buy Nothing group on social media. The project, created in 2013, helps neighbors share gifts with each other.

Another popular option: double chins. “You can back them off,” Brightfield said with a laugh, “but be careful.” “You don’t want to end up giving the same gift that someone gave you. Donating them is a really great idea.”

This story first appeared on More from TODAY:

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2021. It has been updated to reflect current return dates for the stores listed above and the date of Brightfield’s interview with TODAY.