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DeKalb shoppers hit stores to make holiday returns

Published: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 11:59 p.m. CST
Caption
(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Customer service agent Kellie Ratfield (front) is handed a receipt for a returned tablet case Wednesday at Best Buy in DeKalb.

DeKALB – Chris Fell wanted to upgrade her son Ian’s TV, so she bought him a 32-inch Samsung flat-screen for Christmas.

But instead of highlighting the graphics of his video games, the TV kept turning itself on and off. Fell said she is not very good with electronics, so she returned the TV to Best Buy on Wednesday in DeKalb.

“We just wanted to get him something new,” Fell, of Genoa, said.

Fell was one of the many shoppers at local stores Wednesday who were returning Christmas gifts. In Fell’s case, the gift might be broken, necessitating a return or exchange. Fell walked out of Best Buy with a 32-inch Insignia flat-screen TV.

Sometimes, the person didn’t want the gift. That was the case with Justin Mallar of Sycamore, who also went to Best Buy to return the gifts.

“It was a couple presents we didn’t like,” Mallar said. “An HDMI cord and an iPod cord.”

Different stores have different policies on returns and exchanges; some have specific holiday-only policies. Gift purchases at Best Buy made between Nov. 4 and Dec. 24 fall under the store’s holiday policy until Jan. 24.

At Moxie in DeKalb, for instance, a customer with a standard receipt can get a full refund, in-store credit, or exchange the gift within two weeks of the item’s purchase, said store manager Courtney Wilson.

“We don’t have returns after 30 days ... but there can be exceptions,” Wilson said. A person with a holiday receipt has up to 60 days to get store credit or exchange it.

Best Buy’s return policy online states that a receipt – whether its standard or a gift one – is needed for all returns. Store manager Jody Austin-Johnson added that their employees are able to look up the receipt if the customer has lost their copy.

“We take care of the customer with or without a receipt,” Austin-Johnson said, adding that they try to take care of everyone as if they were a family member.

Checking a store’s return policies is one tip given by Consumer Reports, a magazine published by the nonprofit Consumers Union, which reviews and compares different products such as electronics and cars. The magazine also advises consumers to look out for restocking fees and be aware of what can and can’t be returned, as well as the window for returning gifts.

Returning a pair of pajamas her mother bought her at Target for Christmas wasn’t an issue for Lauren Sliga. Sliga said she didn’t like the bright neon colors on them, and returning them was easy.

“ ‘Return them if you want,’ my mom said. She gave us the receipts with the gifts,” Sliga said.

Nationwide, holiday spending increased 0.7 percent compared with last year, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. That was according to a report from MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, an information service that reports on national retail sales.

The AP reported that economic analysts were hoping for 3 to 4 percent growth this year, and that 2012 was the worst year-over-year performance since 2008.

Although she didn’t have figures on hand, Austin-Johnson noted that post-holiday returns and exchanges had slowed compared with past years.

She said a lot of people now buy gift cards for their loved ones. A National Retail Federation poll conducted between Dec. 4 and Dec. 10 found that 40 percent of people shopping for the holidays bought a gift card or a gift receipt.

If anything, Austin-Johnson said, sales increase after the holidays as people redeem gift cards or finish what friends and relatives started for them.

“We get a lot more customers coming back to complete their gifts,” she said. “Someone will have bought them the main gift, and they’ll come back in to buy accessories.”

Wilson said they do not have a lot of people coming to the store to return gifts, just people who are “looking for a different color or a different size.”

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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