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Return policies for all the gifts you don’t want

Remember that cheesy sweater your aunt got you last year? The one with the light-up Rudolph nose? It’s still hanging in your closet, untouched, where it has been since Dec. 26, 2019. You should have exchanged it for one of the 15 top tech gifts instead.

You don’t have to keep those unwanted gifts around. Your loved ones spent hard-earned money on them, so exchange them for something you’ll actually use instead.

If you’re worried about what to do with the knock-off electronics that your grandpa dug up for you or some other thoughtful but unnecessary gift, we can help. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about the return policies of those big-box retailers.

Amazon

Amazon rolled out a new return policy this year, and it extends the window of time you have to send back the stuff you don’t want. Most items shipped from Amazon between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, can be returned until Jan. 31, 2021.

Best of all? It’s free to make those returns. Plus, you’ll have a ton of options for doing so. Not only can you send them back the old school Amazon way — with a return label and a drop-off at UPS — but you’ll also have tens of thousands of locations that you can drop them off at. You may not even need a return label to do it.

Returns Center

If you want to return a gift to Amazon, you can easily do so by visiting the Returns Center in your web browser. Once Amazon has processed your return, you’ll get an Amazon.com gift card for the refund amount, which will be added to your account.

Here’s how to use Amazon Returns Center:

  1. Go to the Returns Center using a desktop or laptop browser. If prompted, sign in to your Amazon account. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one.
  2. Enter the order number for the item you want to return.
    • Note: You can find your 17-digit order number on your packing slip or the digital gift receipt. If you can’t locate your packaging slip or digital gift receipt, contact Amazon, and they’ll help you locate the order number by using other info, like the name of the sender and the tracking number.
  3. Select Continue.
  4. Select the items you want to return, enter the number of items you want to return, and then select a return reason from the drop-down menu. For items sold by a third-party seller, you’ll see Submit return request. Some Amazon sellers review return requests before authorizing them.
  5. Select your return shipping options and how you’ll obtain your return label. Each return requires a separate return label. To ensure that you receive the correct refund, don’t include items from multiple orders or deliveries in the same package.
  6. If you choose to return using Amazon Hub Locker, you’ll be prompted to select an Amazon Hub Locker location. For more information about returning an item to an Amazon Hub Locker, go to Return a Package at an Amazon Hub Locker.
  7. Print your label and return authorization.
  8. Put the return authorization inside your package and attach the label to the outside of it.

To return a gift at a physical drop-off location:

Amazon also offers free drop-off locations for customers, including physical retail stores like Amazon Books, Amazon 4-star, Amazon Fresh grocery stores and Amazon Go stores. There are also alternative delivery locations via Amazon Hub Locker and Amazon Hub Locker+, and other locations like Whole Foods Market, Kohl’s and UPS.

  • Amazon physical retail locations: You can return items at more than 75 Amazon physical retail stores across the country, including Amazon Books, Amazon 4-star, Amazon Fresh grocery stores, and Amazon Go stores.
    1. All you have to do is visit one of Amazon’s drop-off locations.
    2. Show the QR code received after starting a return online and hand over the item in the original manufacturer’s packaging. You won’t need a box or label for this return.
  • Amazon Hub Locker and Amazon Hub Locker+ locations: Amazon Hub Locker and Amazon Hub Locker+ locations are in more than 900 cities and towns across the country.
    1. To return to a Locker, you start a return on Amazon.com or the Amazon app and then bring the items in a box or shipping envelope. Use the barcode, or six-digit code, sent after starting a return to place the item in the slot.
    2. For staffed Locker+ locations, you have the option of either pre-packaging the item, using the free packing materials available onsite or returning without a box or label. 
  • Whole Foods Market: This year, Amazon has made it possible to return items at 500 Whole Foods Market locations nationwide. If you choose this option, there’s no need for a box or label.
    1. You simply take the item and QR code generated after creating a return to the Customer Service desk in Whole Foods. A Whole Foods Market team member will scan the code and take the item.
  • Kohl’s: Customers can return eligible items at more than 1,100 Kohl’s locations across 48 U.S. states.
    1. Start the return on Amazon.com or the Amazon app, and then select Kohl’s as the drop-off location.
    2. When you arrive, you’ll visit the Amazon Returns desk to make the return and show the QR code to a store associate. No box or label is needed.
  • UPS: To make a return at UPS, you’ll drop off the items using a pre-paid mailing label at close to 20,000 UPS Access Point locations nationwide. In many cases, you can also return without a box or label at almost 5,000 The UPS Store locations using a QR code generated when starting a return. You may also arrange a no-cost pick-up from your home or office via a UPS driver.

Related: Tap or click here for 21 problem-solving gadgets readers love

Target

If you want to return a gift purchased at Target, you may want to be aware of its return policy. Target is offering a 90-day return window for most items. However, some items will have shorter windows for return.

Most unopened items sold by Target can be returned within 90 days of purchase, and you will receive a refund or exchange. However, some items sold by Target — primarily electronics and tech gadgets — have a modified return policy. This information is noted on the receipt, packing slip, Target policy board (refund exceptions), Target.com or the item description.

You might not have the receipt if the item was a gift, though. What’s important to remember is that while most items fall within that 90-day window, electronics do not. You’ll have a 30-day window to return your unopened item to Target for a full refund or exchange.

Furthermore, Apple products other than iPhones have an even shorter return window. You’ll have 15 days to return these Apple items to Target for a refund. Again, they have to be unopened, so make sure you leave them in the packaging.

There may also be a restocking fee for certain electronics or products. This is generally 15% of the purchase price. They also don’t offer returns on opened items.

  • For all electronics and entertainment items (excluding Apple products) purchased between Oct. 1 through Dec. 25, the 30-day refund period will start on Dec. 26. 
  • For all Apple products (excluding mobile phones) purchased between Oct. 1 through Dec. 25, the 15-day refund period will start on Dec. 26. 

If you miss those dates, you’ll only be allowed to return up to $70 worth of merchandise without a receipt. That return has to happen within one year of the purchase.

To return a gift to a Target store:

You can return items purchased online or in a Target store to a Target location in your area. However, you’ll need to have the receipt, gift receipt or Target packing slip to initiate the return. If you don’t have a receipt, you can show a valid ID.

You’ll receive a refund in the form of a Target gift card. If the purchase was originally made with a merchandise return card, you’ll receive that amount on another merchandise return card.

To return items via mail:

Items purchased from Target.com can also be returned by mail using the gift receipt or packing slip. To return your gift by mail, call Target.com Guest Services at 1-800-591-3869.

To return items via mail without a packing slip:

If you didn’t receive a packing slip with your gift, you can call Target.com Guest Services for help in processing your return.

Related: 15 affordable tech gifts you’ll want to buy for yourself, too

Walmart

In general, Walmart has a pretty liberal return policy. You have 90 days after the purchase to exchange or return the item you don’t want — though there are some exceptions. Electronics and post-paid wireless phones have shorter return windows than other products — between 15 and 30 days — as is the case for most stores.

Walmart has also extended the return window this year to give you time to return those unwanted electronics gifts. You’ll still have a limited time frame in which you can return your gifts, but the date will start on December 26 for some items:

  • Most items other than electronics and post-paid phones will still need to be returned within the 90-day window, starting the day of the purchase.
  • For electronics purchased from Oct. 16 to Dec. 25, the 30-day return period begins on Dec. 26.
  • Post-paid wireless phones purchased in-store have a 14 day return period from the date of purchase.
  • Post-paid wireless phones purchased from Walmart.com may be returned within 14 days of delivery.

Walmart will also accept returns on broken or defective gifts. You can find a local store to see if they have the same item (or a comparable item) available. If it’s in stock, it’ll generally replace your item with one in store.

To return items to a Walmart store:

You can return items in-store, for free by mail, or via a scheduled pickup from your home. Provide your in-store receipt or Walmart.com order number, and it will refund the purchase price and applicable taxes and fees to the original form of payment or provide a replacement.

Most gifts can be returned or exchanged to local Walmart stores within 90 days of purchase, even if they were purchased on Walmart.com originally. If you have a receipt or packing slip and are within the return window, you can return the item for cash or a Walmart Gift Card.

If you do not have a receipt or packing slip, you can still return the item if it’s within Walmart’s Return without Receipt guidelines.

  1. Review the list of return exceptions to make sure your item is returnable before going to a store.
  2. Find a local store to return your item along with the packing slip, if available. Make sure to bring any packaging, materials and accessories that came with the item.
    • Note: If you don’t have the packing slip or a receipt, and your item was purchased on Walmart.com, bring the order number or the email address of the sender with you when you go in. If you’re not sure what to bring with you or have other questions, contact Customer Care.
  3. Visit the customer service counter in-store to initiate the return.

To return items via mail:

Returning gifts to Walmart via mail is a little trickier. You can contact customer service if you have a gift receipt to get a return label. If you don’t have a receipt, you’ll have to get the sender to initiate the return through their Walmart.com account so that you can get a return label.

  • To return by mail with a receipt:
    1. Start by calling Customer Care to initiate the return.
    2. Walmart customer service will send an email communication with a link for a return label to initiate the return.
    3. You do not need a Walmart.com account to initiate the return. However, you are required to enter your email address online to get the return label and eGift Card.
  • To return by mail without a receipt:
    1. You must obtain a return label from the gift sender.
    2. If the gifter initiates the return, the refund is issued via the original payment method.
    3. If you can’t obtain a gift receipt or return label, you can return in-store for a Walmart Gift Card.

Best Buy

If you want to return a gift purchased at Best Buy or on BestBuy.com, you’ll generally have a 14- or 15-day window to do so, though it’s different for Best Buy Elite and Elite Plus members. If you want to return or exchange your purchase, the time period begins the day you receive your product and applies to new, clearance, open-box, refurbished and pre-owned products.

  • Cell phones, cellular tablets and cellular wearables generally have a 14-day window for returns.
  • Major appliances and holiday products generally have a 15-day return window.
  • Most other purchases have a 15-day return window.

However, Best Buy has rolled out a special return policy for holiday purchases this year.

  • Purchases made Oct. 13, 2020, through Jan. 2, 2021, have an extended return period through Jan. 16, 2021.
    • Note: This excludes items purchased with a third-party contract, holiday products and major appliances. 
    • There is an extensive list of non-returnable items, which can be found here.

You have two options for returning unwanted gifts to Best Buy: in store or by mail.

To return your gift at a store:

You may return any item purchased on BestBuy.com at any Best Buy store. You’ll need your packing slip (if you received one), your receipt or the credit card used to make your purchase. You’ll also need a valid photo ID. If local regulations have prohibited Best Buy from re-opening your local store, you may return your item(s) via curbside service.

To return your gift via mail:

Use our prepaid return label

You can return your gift via mail for free if you choose, but you’ll need to get the person who bought it to print out a return label for you. To do this:

  1. Have the person who purchased the gift log in to their Best Buy account to locate the order.
  2. Print a prepaid shipping label.
  3. Put the return label on the package and take it to an authorized UPS drop off location and ship it to Best Buy during your return period.

There you have it, several ways to return those unwanted gifts received for Christmas. Despite having to return that unflattering tie, everyone here at Komando HQ hopes you had a wonderful Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!

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