2011 December 28

Apparently Americans will return 10% of their Christmas gifts this year and the breakdown is fascinating. 62% of returns will be clothing and shoes that don’t fit properly or aren’t considered ‘suitable’ by the recipient. Not even close, by comparison, is the 16% toys, games and hobby supplies that will be returned and exchanged, closely followed by 14% returns in consumer electronics.

So what can you do to avoid being the giver of an unwanted gift or being lumbered with something you don’t want?

First, if you’re not sure about the item you’re buying, ask about the retailer’s returns policy – some online retailers have a brilliant exchange system for gifts, others charge a fortune in return postage – be sure that it’s possible to return or get a refund on an unwanted gift item so that the recipient can get something they do want.

If you’re the recipient, you may wish to ask the giver of an unwanted present for the receipt – it’s tricky but if you know them well and are willing to explain why (I already have one, it’s a size too small/large, I don’t wear T-shirts that colour etc) it can be done tactfully. Saying ‘I hate it and will never wear it’ may not get you the receipt, in fact, it may ensure you don’t get many more presents, so run your reasoning by a third party before launching into your request!

Always bear in mind that if they buyer didn’t pay cash, your refund may take the form of a gift token or voucher or for some stores, you can only get a refund onto the card that was used to make the purchase.

If you can’t exchange or refund, you can try selling your unwanted item on eBay – there are fee free weekends where the bulk of items on offer are unwanted gifts. Alternatively you can try for a swap – if it’s worth less than £50 lots of local papers allow you to put in a free advert, or even just give it away to a charity shop or online through sites like Freecycle, Greencyle or Freegle, in the hope that karma will deliver a free item that you want at some point in future.



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