Holiday Gifts Most Likely to Be Returned


By Cameron Huddleston, Contributing Editor,

We all have stories of holiday gifts that we’ve received but didn’t want.

Maybe it was a sweater that was two sizes too big, or perfume that didn’t smell much better than rubbing alcohol, or an ugly black radio/cassette player instead of the cute pink one you really wanted (yes, Dad, I still remember).

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SheSpeaks and Lippe Taylor surveyed 3,000 women to find out which were the worst gifts they had ever been given.


Here are the results:

  • The same sweater … three years in a row
  • A compost starter kit — although useful, the women surveyed didn’t want to receive this item as a holiday gift
  • Monogrammed towel with the recipient’s name spelled incorrectly
  • A bathroom scale
  • Used make-Up
  • A re-gifted coffee mug from a casino, with a buffet coupon still inside

Maybe you’ve received one of these gifts, or possibly something even worse. But hopefully you’ve never given anybody something quite so bad. There is a good chance, though, that you have given someone a gift he or she didn’t want or like. And that means the recipient had to go to the trouble of returning that gift.

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A study by market research company MarketTools reveals the most-returned gifts. So you might want to avoid buying these items for friends and family unless they’ve specifically requested them (and have included make, model or size with their request):

  • 62% of those surveyed by MarketTools returned gifts of clothing and shoes
  • 16% of those surveyed returned toys, games and hobbies
  • 14% of those surveyed returned consumer electronics
  • 13% of those surveyed returned kitchen and bath gifts
  • 10% of those surveyed returned beauty and cosmetic items
  • 10% of those surveyed returned jewelry and watches

Gift givers should make it easy for recipients to return unwanted items by including gift receipts. Don’t worry, it’s not tacky. In fact, Peter Post, co-author of “The Etiquette Advantage in Business and Essential Manners for Couples,” says that you should include a gift receipt so that the recipient will feel comfortable taking the item back if it’s not right.

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Recipients: If you don’t receive a receipt with a gift that you don’t want, you might not be entirely out of luck. Many retailers will give you store credit — but probably at the lowest price at which the item was sold in the past 30 days. Some retailers limit the number of times you can return items without a receipt. Other retailers only let you return items without a receipt up to a certain price. Unfortunately, some may not give you a refund at all without a receipt.

Make sure you act quickly to return unwanted gifts. Although some retailers allow up to 90 days to return items, some limit the return window to 30 days or fewer. Check the retailer’s site or call after you receive an unwanted gift to find out how quickly you need to return it. Also make sure you don’t open the manufacturer’s or retailer’s packaging on unwanted gifts. Otherwise you might only be able to exchange it for an identical item, which is the case for computer software, movies, music and video games purchased at Best Buy, for example. Or you might have to pay a restocking fee (generally 15% of the purchase price) if you return items — especially electronics — that aren’t in their original package. This is meant to discourage the one-time use of items.

If you receive a gift card that you don’t want, it’s easy to sell it for cash (up to 90% of the face value) at sites such as Gift Card Granny and Plastic Jungle. One of the best days to sell unwanted gift cards is December 26 because retailers are looking to replenish depleted gift card inventory and often pay some of the best prices, according to Gift Card Granny.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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