The Art of Returning Christmas Gifts

Christmas has come and gone, and people have received a lot of gifts. Some gifts were great, and others... not so great. Of the "not so great" gift pile, some of those gifts will be shelved somewhere mostly out of sight, just in case the gift giver pays you a visit (family politics!) Other gifts will be "re-gifted." And yet many more brave souls will boldly stand in a customer service line, and attempt to return or exchange the undesired gifts.

If you are one of the millions who will attempt to return or exchange a gift sometime in the next few weeks, I would like to offer some friendly wisdom. Take this from a guy who spent about 10 years of his life in some form of retail:

1. Remember, you aren't the only person on planet Earth doing this.

Duh. But really, remember this as you stand in a long line of people, you aren't the only person there. While you may blissfully attempt to tune out everything around you, don't become one of "those people" who act like they are the only person standing in line. For heavens sake, don't do silly things like bring your screaming soggy-bottomed baby to stand in line with you. And make sure you have as many of your receipts as possible ready to give to the customer service rep. And when it is your turn, don't tell a long story about why you are returning your items. 99 percent of the time, the reason you are returning your item simply won't matter.

2. Shop before you get in line:

Unless you want to stand in the world's longest line twice, and really have nothing better to do with your time, whenever you are exchanging an item, shop for the items you want ahead of time and bring them with you to the counter. Such will make everything go much more smoothly for you, the people in line next to you, and it will actually help make the world go round. Think about it... you don't want to stand in line twice!

3. Your customer service reps are people too:

Even though you are the customer, and the customer is always right... when dealing with your friendly customer service rep, NEVER get mad at them, yell at them, or otherwise act like an idiot. I don't care how entitled, white, or middle-class you are. I don't care how smart you are, or how great your job is. I don't care how dumb or irrating the person behind the desk seems to be as they mindlessly invoke x, y, and z policy over you, and why you can't exchange your gift. Customer service people are your fellow sinners, created in the image of God. They may or may not treat you well (after all, you are the millionth person they've seen, they are 2 hours past due for a break, they've been standing on their feet all day, and the store manager isn't helping them out any). Speak kindly and gently to them. Remember, you get more bees with honey, and a gentle answer turns away wrath. Don't threaten to take your business elsewhere. Don't demand to speak to a manager (they are usually just going to side with the customer service rep anyway.) Simply look to treat others the way you would want to be treated, like Jesus said. You wouldn't want somebody acting like an idiot yelling at you, would you?

4. Don't attempt to return an item without a receipt:

Unless you are returning clothes made by the Gap to the Gap, if you don't have a receipt for something, or a copy of the credit card the item was purchased with, save everybody and yourself the trouble of attempting to return the gift. It's almost never going to happen and defies common sense. Think about it... if you owned a retail store and somebody claimed to have purchased an item at your store, but didn't have any means whatsoever of proving it, would you take the financial risk of returning or exchanging that item without a receipt? Then don't be so shocked if you can't do it.

5. Be thankful:

We can't always get what we want, even when we attempt to exchange our gifts. Therefore, learn to be thankful for what you received, even if what you received is the wrong size, shape, or color. Be thankful for whatever you have received, because there are a lot of people out there this Christmas who didn't receive anything. Find joy and learn to delight in whatever you get, because it'll change your heart in the process. And a changed heart is the greatest of gifts.

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