What to know when making gift returns or exchanges

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(WZAW) -- When it comes to holiday returns and exchanges, they aren't easy and can sometimes be confusing for us.

Experts predict more than 90 billion dollars of merchandise will be returned during the 2019 holiday season. (SOURCE: KOLN)

Stores are not legally required to accept exchanges or give refunds unless the merchandise was defective or misrepresented.

Grace Atherton, the communications director for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 on Thursday. She said in Wisconsin there are no statewide laws that specifically regulate return or refund policies.

"Each business may set its own return or exchange policy," she said.

She advised that ideally before you make a purchase, or at least before returning or exchanging a gift, know the store policy and ask for it in writing if possible.

Having a receipt is ideal when making returns or exchanges. Atherton said some stores will offer store credit if you don't have a receipt.

"Some can offer your refunds and some cannot."

Atherton added that it can make your life easier if you have a price tag or UPC code on the item.

"If you can return the item in new condition, unopened with all the original packaging, many stores prefer that."

Gift receipts are also recommended when making a purchase, if the purchase is for someone else."It's always a good idea to get a gift receipt just in case," Atherton said.

Online is a big platform for purchasing holiday gifts.

"It really depends on the retailer. Some retailers will offer free return shipping for a minimum or certain dollar amount. Others require customers to pay the return shipping fee. Some have brick and mortar locations where you can return an item you bought online. Look at that website's return policy."

While every retailer has a different timeline to make returns or exchanges, Atherton said it's best to do so as soon as possible.