Financial Fitness


Keep track of store deadlines for happy returns

Posted at 7:16 PM, Dec 20, 2018

The good news? Santa brought presents — not coal — this year. The bad news? A few of the toys under the tree may not work, and some of those clothes are very possibly the wrong size.

Once the Christmas gifts are unwrapped, it’s time to head to the store or ship back packages to make any returns or exchanges. If you’ll be returning something you gave or received, here are the dates and deadlines to remember.

The purchase dateIf a purchase falls within a certain period, it will likely qualify for an extended return window. Typically, items that were purchased in the months of November or December qualify for this, although the exact dates vary by retailer.

According to Walmart’s return policy, the 15-day return period for select items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 won’t start until Dec. 26. Best Buy’s policy states that almost every purchase made throughout November and December can be returned through Jan. 12, with some exceptions.

If a product was purchased before (or after) a holiday window, you’ll likely have the typical return period to make returns. This could be from 15 to 30 days, depending on the store. However, check to see if gifts are an exception.

The opening dayWhen you give or receive a gift — and especially if after opening you decide to return it — remember that the clock is ticking. If you open the gift on Christmas Day, you’ll probably have a few weeks left to make your return.

But if you celebrate and open your gift on a later day, you might have less time. Keep this in mind if you feel like you’re likely to procrastinate and put off that return.

The last dayThe most important date of all is the final day to make returns. If there isn’t a date explicitly listed on the receipt or gift receipt, look up the retailer’s return policy online to find the final deadline. Most stores are allowing holiday returns until mid-January or the end of January.

For example, T.J. Maxx’s policy says purchases made between Oct. 14 and Dec. 24 can be returned online or by mail through Jan. 23. At Overstock, a return for purchases made Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 must be initiated within 30 days of delivery, or by Jan. 31, whichever date is later.

If you’re sending return items through the mail, follow all online instructions to ensure your package is received on time.

If you’ll be making your way to the store, bring along the product — and any relevant receipts and packaging — to make your return. For a hassle-free experience, avoid the days immediately following Christmas. They’re infamous for packed stores.

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Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: @CourtneyNerd.saaaaaaass