Returned Gift to Company for Refund; Chargeback Given to Gift-Giver
January 3, 2005 2:46 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good way to go about returning or exhanging gifts without embarrassing anybody? [MI]

I was raised to believe that gifts should be treasured and returning a gift is a slap in the face to the giver. However, going through my stuff during a recent move made me realize how many gifts I have sitting around with the tags still on that I will never use. I decided that this year, any gifts I won't use I'll return to the store for an exchange or refund. Lo and behold, I received one particularly expensive item I decided I didn't need, so I contacted the store (in another state) and arranged to ship them the item in exchange for a refund. I received a letter from the store today containing a credit card receipt, and stating that the refund had been made to the credit card the item was purchased with. What do I do now? Contact the original giver and explain the situation and ask them to write me a check? Contact the store and try to wheedle a check out of them? Pretend nothing has happened? I'm embarrassed, and I'm afraid the gift-giver will be too. Help.
posted by bonheur to Human Relations (14 answers total)
I've tried to write something useful, but there are so many things you did wrong it's hard to know where to start.

The answer to your initial question is no.

There is no good answer to the credit card mess, as there will already be an entry in the next statement with the refund, no matter what you do. You now have to find a way to tell this person you returned their gift. Starting with "I was raised to believe that gifts should be treasured and returning a gift is a slap in the face to the giver." is probably not the best line, seeing you did it anyway.
posted by krisjohn at 2:55 PM on January 3, 2005

Best answer: I think it's up-front and honest time. Phone the person and explain what you did (which will save them worrying about credit appearing in their statement). Explain how you didn't want to hurt their feelings, creep and crawl and try to get back in their good books.

Don't ask for a replacement gift or money; this is your punishment for sending back gifts on the sly. And remember, if you don't want it - Ebay it.
posted by Navek Rednam at 2:57 PM on January 3, 2005

"I received two of [x] and thought I had sent back the other one--imagine my surprise when the store told me they had credited your card for the return!

I do hope you know how much I valued the thought that went into your gift, and I'm sorry for the confusion."
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:05 PM on January 3, 2005

Ummm, ever hear of regifting?
posted by fixedgear at 3:06 PM on January 3, 2005

Response by poster: Does it make a difference if the gift was from my parents? It was footwear, and it cost well over $100. Hard to regift or play off like I got two.
posted by bonheur at 3:10 PM on January 3, 2005

Best answer: Too small. They were too small. Stick to that.
posted by oflinkey at 3:12 PM on January 3, 2005

good answer Sidehedevil, well done
posted by seawallrunner at 3:20 PM on January 3, 2005

Best answer: In general, it depends on the reason for the exchange. "It's not my size" and "Oh, that's an excellent choice, so excellent I've already read it/bought one" are pretty non-embarassing reasons for wanting to exchange something. "I don't like it" and "I'll never use it" are not friendly reasons for wanting to exchange something. In the former case, you can approach the person who bought it and ask for assistance (receipts, whatever else might be needed) in making the exchange. In the latter case, suck it up; sell it on eBay or regift it or something if the store won't take it back without alerting the original purchaser in some way.

As an added note, most stores are much more willing to do that kind of transaction for store credit rather than cash when it was paid for by credit card originally. In the future you might consider asking for a credit to avoid the problem you had.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:25 PM on January 3, 2005

Best answer: Footwear? Oh, hell, "They didn't fit, and I didn't want to bother you with the exchange" is the right answer.

(If they say "But it's your size", tell them that the shoes/boots were too small through the vamp. Nobody really knows what the "vamp" is, so they'll take your word for it.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:34 PM on January 3, 2005

I second jacquilynne's comment. Store credit is your friend.
posted by hindmost at 3:35 PM on January 3, 2005

What Sidhedevil said above is probably the most face-saving thing all around that you can say.

You might want to call the store and ask if they can do anything to help smooth over the situation. If you told them this was a gift to you and they credited the giver's card instead of giving you the refund or credit for an exchange, and didn't explain that was their policy before you returned the shoes, I would think that's a faux pas on their part. In that case they might run interference with your parents by explaining the mistake to them, so at least they hear it from the store "officially" and it might mollify them a bit. Of course, if you didn't tell them it was a gift, they probably can't do anything except regret the misunderstanding.

Even if the store can handle the explanation, you'll still have to talk to your parents yourself. I don't think there's a way out of embarassing them if they raised you not to return gifts. Tell them as simply as possible, express how very sorry you are that it got muddled up like this, and drop the matter. Don't ask for, expect, or even hint for another gift in replacement; they already gave you something and you chose to dispose of it. It's not their problem.
posted by Melinika at 4:48 PM on January 3, 2005

Tell your parents. Just be straight with them. You've noticed how much unwanted crap you have already. The people in your life buy you things that they think you would like. If you don't like what they give you, let them know (nicely). Otherwise, you will continue to receive gifts that you hate. Their goal is to make you happy, not to show off their "look how well I know you" psychic abilities, so give them (and the other gift givers in your life) a chance to actually do that.
posted by wallaby at 5:25 PM on January 3, 2005

Yup. In the case you cite, it's too late. Your problem has less to do with misunderstanding etiquette than lacking foresight. But for future reference, you absolutely cannot seek a "refund" for a gift you've received. Give it away, exchange for merchandise credit, or sell it on eBay -- but you can't get back someone else's money from the store. There are six ways that's wrong, and you hit 'em all.
posted by cribcage at 8:46 PM on January 3, 2005

Sidhedevil, that's beautiful. Worthy of Miss Manners.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:51 PM on January 3, 2005

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