Shoppers beware: Ask for gift receipts, keep all receipts throughout holiday season

MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) asks shoppers to pay close attention to the different stores’ policies while they shop, to ask for gift receipts at the register, and to keep all sales documentation throughout the holiday season.

Officials say some stores will not honor a return or refund request without a receipt, so it is important to ask for gift receipts at the time of purchase and to include them with the package. Drop the gift receipt in the box or tape it to the front or side of the box before you wrap the item.

Additional return tips include:

  • Stores are required to honor the return guidelines they represent to consumers. If the store’s policy is not posted, ask a salesperson or manager about the terms before making a purchase.
  • Pay attention to the time frame allotted by the retailer for returns. Find out if the countdown to the last day for returns begins on the date of original purchase of the item or if there are extended holiday return deadlines.
  • As you wrap gifts, leave the price tags and UPC codes intact and keep the original packaging. Some stores charge a restocking fee for opened items or those without their packaging (especially electronics).
  • Review the conditions that apply when you buy products on sale or clearance. Some stores may not allow you to return these items.
  • If you are shopping online or by phone, find out who pays return shipping fees if you have a problem with the product. Does the retailer pay those fees or does the consumer? Are return shipping fees deducted from the refund amount?
  • Gift cards may not be eligible for returns, so check the store’s policy before you purchase one.

If you believe a retailer is not honoring its posted return policy, file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Bureau at, send an e-mail to or call the Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

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