Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to make returns easy

The best way to make returns easy is to not have them in the first place. Don't ever buy anything just because it's on sale (you probably won't be able to return it, anyway), without knowing where it will live in your home, or if you don't need it or love it.

However, sometimes returns are unavoidable, and a lot of the time people lose their money, their space and their mental energy on returns that never get made. Here's how to make them happen.

Keep your receipts in one central location.  Once you have decided to return an item, locate the receipt for it and place the receipt and the item in a (reusable) bag. Place the bag in the area of your home where you keep items that are leaving (library books, mail, etc.). The next time you will be in the vicinity of the store in question, grab the bag, place it your car (or take it with you if you use public transportation), and enter a reminder in your to-do list or calendar to make the return. (Using Apple's Reminders app on your iOS5 iPhone, you can even program the address in and when you arrive, you'll get pinged.) If the return is to a store you are rarely near, take note of the window you have for returns (usually found on the front or back of the receipt) and schedule a time to get there before the window is up. It's not a bad idea to mark in your calendar the last day to return the item anyway, as time can get away from us.

More tips:
  • Take note of the payment method and make sure you have the card you used to make the purchase on you when you go to return, or you may have to take store credit.
  • Try to pair the return with another errands at the same store or in the area so you don't have to make a special trip.
  • Avoid making returns without a receipt. The process will take longer at the store, you may not get the full value of the return,and you will probably only get store credit.
  • If you do accept store credit instead of cash or charge back on your card, try to use it right then so you don't have to make an extra trip to get your money's worth.
Do you have any other tips for making returns easy?

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by John Bell


  1. If it's a clothing item, I like to staple the receipt to the tag. That way I can get rid of the shopping bag. The longer something sits in an ugly, opaque bag, the more likely I am to put off returning it or to forget about it entirely entirely. Also, that way I don't accidentally throw away the receipt.

  2. That is a great tip! You definitely don't want to lose your receipt, and keeping the item in sight can spur you to action.