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Stores stay busy with gift returns

By Heather Hintze 9:11 PM December 26, 2013

The day after Christmas is one of the busiest for shopping and exchanging presents

ANCHORAGE –  If your Christmas gifts weren’t quite right this year, you weren’t alone.

Dozens of people waited in REI’s customer service line to return presents Thursday.

“This Fitbit Zip that my sister here got for me Christmas — not really a fit for me so I’m exchanging it for a new yoga mat and a strap,” said Sara Taylor.

The day after Christmas is one of the busiest shopping days of the year with people looking for post-holiday deals. Many people were at the store to exchange gifts though.

The queue of customers stretched through the store as sales associates did their best to get people through quickly.

“I’m returning some snow pants and a coat,” said Gigi Powelson. “I’m returning them because I don’t really like the color and the shape of them. It’s really hard to find pants that are long enough and tight enough.”

Fred Meyer was another busy place.

“I’m returning some throw blankets and a speaker box,” said Laticia Chandler. “I accidentally bought too many blankets.”

Ann Wilkinson also waited in line to exchange a gift.

“A pair of slippers because they were not large enough and not quite comfortable,” she said. “So I’m just returning them for a different pair.”

Sometimes the gift can be the right choice, but doesn’t work. That’s what happened to Randall Nibbelink, who exchanged a defective toy helicopter he bought for his grandson.

“I absolutely want the gift,” Nibbelink said. “My grandson is very interested in the helicopter; he was so excited. We plugged it in and charged it. Both the blades went the same way, didn’t counter-rotate, and wouldn’t take off the ground.”

Many stores make it easy to return or exchange items around the holidays, especially when you have the receipt. If you don’t, they can still be pretty lenient.

“Especially when you use your rewards card because then everything is associated in the computer,” Nibbelink said. “Then if you lose the receipt, which I happened to have done, this is perfect.”

Some stores have had to tighten their return policies. The National Retail Federation estimates stores could lose up to $3 billion around the Christmas season because of return fraud.

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