Hate to be the one to tell you this, but someone on your Christmas list is going to return your gift to the store. And you may never know about it. A poll by Western Union last year said 75% of Americans have lied about liking a gift they did not.
Want to increase the chances that your carefully chosen gift will not be returned? Don't buy the most returned gift. Hands down, it's clothes and other apparel. It doesn't fit, the color is not right, it does make your butt look big, or it's just downright ugly.
There are other most returned gifts to avoid.
An oft-quoted report from Pr-inside.com about a survey conducted for Kohl's in 2008 found that these gifts were identified by respondents as most likely to be returned:
- Clothing, 74%.
- Items for the home, 11%.
- Beauty or fragrance, 8%.
- Electronics, 5%.
- Jewelry or watches, 2%.
Those results were more or less supported by a January 2011 survey by MarketTools:
- Clothing and shoes, mentioned by 62% of respondents.
- Toys, games and hobbies, 16%.
- Consumer electronics, 14%.
- Kitchen and bath, 13%.
- Beauty and cosmetics, 10%.
- Jewelry and watches, 10%.
Other evidence suggests that electronics are moving quickly up the list of undesirables. Accenture says:
Customers returning electronics products will cost U.S. consumer electronics retailers and manufacturers nearly $17 billion this year, an increase of 21 percent since 2007. . . . These costs include receiving, assessing, repairing, reboxing, restocking and reselling returned products.
The return rate for electronics is between 11% and 20%. Although it's unclear why most are taken back, the vast majority are not defective.
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While unhappy recipients generally keep their disappointment close to the vest, one in five U.S. adults surveyed confessed to Consumer Reports they got a gift they didn't like. Here's what they did:
Eighteen percent donated it to charity; 15 percent re-gifted it to an unsuspecting family member, friend, or coworker; 11 percent returned the item to the retailer for a refund or merchandise credit, the same percentage . . . elected to toss the gift in the trash. Six percent tried to resell their lousy gifts.
Wait. It gets worse. Consumer Reports also says:
Some irked recipients chose a more brazen response. Two percent of those surveyed actually confronted the original giver to return an unwanted present. Another 2 percent retaliated with ridicule -- posting photos of the cringe-worthy item on the Internet.
Actually, return of gifts has already begun this year, and a relatively high rate of returns is expected. So keep these two important rules in mind:
- If you're the giver, please DO include a gift receipt in the box. Hopefully the retailer won't pull a fast one and give the returner a post-holiday sale price, rather than cash or credit for the price you paid.
- If you realize a present is not what you want, DO NOT open the manufacturer's box it came in, particularly if it's something electronic. The store may charge a restocking fee or not accept the return at all if it's been opened.
Should you be embarrassed about taking it back? Apparently not, but you still are, according to a American Express survey:
Most consumers say they are not concerned by the prospect of a friend or family member returning a gift. While more than half of holiday gift givers (56%) don't care, most recipients are still unlikely to confess to a loved one that their gift was returned to the store (59%).
So what's really the worst gift you can give? According to TopTenz.net, it's a gift that can't be taken back to the store. "Never, never, never give the gift that can't be returned," Lee Standberry wrote. "We live in the age of self-indulgence -- it's sad but, nevertheless, true."
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