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Consumer Watch: Don't delay when returning, exchanging holiday gifts

Jan. 8, 2010 - 10:33AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 8, 2010 - 10:33AM  |  
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The gifts are opened, the wrapping paper is in shreds, and cleanup is underway.

What about that shirt that didn't fit? That tie you wouldn't wear outside the house, because somebody might see you? The video game that doesn't work?

In the case of a gift that is broken or defective, you should always return it. But if that tie is so bad, why not exchange it for something you can wear or use? Make the best use of those dollars — whether you spent them or your grandmother did.

Don't delay returning or exchanging gifts. Stores — brick and mortar, as well as online — have time limits. Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Navy Exchange Service Command officials have extended their refund and exchange deadline for more than a month after the holidays.

This applies to:

• AAFES: items bought between Nov. 26 and Dec. 24, 2009.

• NEXCOM: items bought between Nov. 27 and Dec. 24, 2009.

This means for some items that usually have to be returned within two weeks — computers, for example — your window didn't expire before you got the gift.

AAFES allows a 90-day return window on most items; NEXCOM allows a 45-day window. There are exceptions within that, too, besides computers — for example, AAFES normally has a 30-day window for jewelry, televisions, digital cameras, furniture, mattresses, appliances and gas-powered equipment, and 15 days for DVDs and video games.

But if you bought it between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, you won't have that limited window.

Generally, you're going to need the receipt. But if you don't have a receipt, you can always try taking the item to the store and asking the manager about a refund. It will help if you have the original packaging.

To be certain of the time limits for particular items, check your store's Web site or call the store's customer service office.

Some examples of where to find return policies:

• Walmart stores: http://www.walmartstores.com/7737.aspx">http://www.walmartstores.com/7737.aspx.

• AAFES: Look at the "frequently asked questions" section on http://www.aafes.com/">www.aafes.com.

• Navy Exchange: https://www.navy-nex.com/command/customer_service/p_policy.html">https://www.navy-nex.com/command/customer_service/p_policy.html.

—————

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Contact staff writer kjowers@militarytimes.com?subject=Question from ArmyTimes.com reader">Karen Jowers at kjowers@militarytimes.com">kjowers@militarytimes.com.

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