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Central Coast residents rush to return unwanted gifts amid stricter store policies

Posted at 7:07 PM, Dec 26, 2019

Now that the holiday frenzy of unwrapping gifts on Christmas Day is over, people are returning their unwanted duds for cash, credit, or new gifts.

But this year, some stores have implemented changes that make it more difficult to swap out gifts.

Among the sunglasses, clothes and special dog toy San Luis Obispo resident Justin O'Neal received for Christmas is a pair of headphones that didn't work out.

"I'm returning a Jabra bluetooth headset," O'Neal said. "But usually I'm happy with whatever I get."

Another man, Los Osos resident Gary Lyman, appreciated his wife's gift but it wasn't quite what he was looking for.

"I just want a different brand," Lyman said.

Whatever the reason for the return, a recent consumer survey from Oracle shows 77 percent of people say they anticipate returning a Christmas gift this year.

"Sometimes during the holidays there's actually not the same return policy year round," said Kelsey Coleman of the Better Business Bureau. "Is there a restocking fee, do they accept a refund?"

Here's some return tips to know:

Some stores will enter your driver's license into a computerized return system that detects abuse.

Jan. 14 is the deadline to return most holiday purchases to Best Buy.

At Walmart, TVs must be returned within 30 days, a whole two months sooner than years past. And don't expect to make any return to Walmart without a receipt.

The Apple store has a return window of just 14 days.

And at Target, shoppers have just 30 days to return electronics and 15 days for Apple items.

Lyman isn't too worried about his return. He said the best gift he received wasn't under the tree.

"It wasn't the presents, it was having the kids and grandkids at the house," Lyman said.