factual question about receipts and returning gifts in the USA.

People always say: “If you get a gift you don’t like, return it to the store.” But in the Netherlands, that’s impossible because you always need a receipt too return an item to the store, while at the same time it is considered not done to include the receipt when giving a gift, as it shows how much or how little you paid for the gift. And it is also not doen to ask for the receipt, as that tells the gift-giver you intedn to return the gift to the store.

My questions:
Are receipts commonly included in USA gift-giving?
Can items in the USA be returned to the store without a receipt?
If so, how do the store and you know where an item was bought? How does the store know you didn’t just steal the item and made a U-turn to cash the return money?

Some stores will issue a ‘gift receipt’ if you ask, this is a receipt that does not include the price so if the person does not return the gift s/he will never know the cost of the gift. Some stores will also accept unopened merchandise without the receipt, but usually only for store credit.

ETA: It is indeed possible in some stores to steal merchandise and then return it, usually at big box stores. A senior staff member of the Bush administration was caught doing this last year.

Are receipts commonly included in USA gift-giving?
Not in my experience. It’s viewed pretty much as you have described. However, some stores automatically (and some, I gather from madmonk28, on request) issue a “gift receipt” which facilitates an exchange or (if allowed) refund. Of course, if the recipient decides to return the item, he will then know the amount spent. It’s a measure that tries to reconcile the dilemma illustrated in the OP. It’s still up to the giver to provide this to the recipient.

Can items in the USA be returned to the store without a receipt?
It is up to the store. In fact, it’s up to the store whether or not to accept a return with a receipt for other than defective merchandise. Different stores have different policies - some allow no returns besides defects, some allow exchanges but not refunds, some allow refunds, some require a receipt for any return, some don’t, etc.

If so, how do the store and you know where an item was bought?
Sometimes it’s not known. The gift-giver may provide this info, or a label or sticker on the merchandise may show it. Often, though, the store is giving the benefit of the doubt in accepting the return without a receipt. It does have to be an item they carry, of course.

How does the store know you didn’t just steal the item and made a U-turn to cash the return money?
They don’t. I imagine that stores with liberal return policies figure they are helped more by the goodwill towards the honest majority than they are hurt by the dishonest few.

  1. What madmonk said.

  2. Some stores will exchange an item with no reciept, especially if that item can only be found at that store.

  3. What madmonk said.

That is really cool. I wished we had that in the Netherlands.

Some websites (I think Amazon does this) let you indicate this is a gift and issue a gift receipt. Also, they are more common around Christmas time.

What’s also nice is that some of the larger chains will offer a return if you can present the credit card that you bought the item with, no receipt needed. They just look up the sale info on the computer. I’ve done this at Target, my mom has done it at [a store now named] Macy’s. (But no, this isn’t related to gift giving).

I would say gift receipts are common in the US, enough that most stores that sell giftable items also offer gift receipts. My mom always gives them to me with clothes.

My daughter works loss prevention for Wal-Mart. They have methods to prevent this. The first is any item brought into the store for return is tagged at the door. This tag must be on the item when presented to customer service. If someone was to present an item for return without the tag, LP is notifed and besides watching the return transaction, they watch tape from the area of the store that the item is located. If everything passes muster, the person can only recieve a gift card for the return, no cash. Most theives that would try this want cash, not a gift card so it rarely happens.

One reason for the gift receipt is because the stores with generous return policies don’t have to enforce their other rule, which pisses people off. Merchandise credited after a price reduction will only be credited for the lowest price it sold for. Many people are returning gifts after the item has sold for 50% to 75% off the regular price. At the other end of the spectrum, stores only have to take back defective when sold merchandise. Then they can insist on an exchange for the same item if they have it. You had better ask before you buy, or else you may find they don’t accept returns.

Don’t forget these stores require ID for returns without receipts and you get entered into the data base for the return. The stores use the data base to look for people that are returning so much it’s likely to be fraud.

:confused: Really? I don’t remember hearing about that. Who was it?

A lot of the stores in the U.S. including major chains offer ridiculous return policies in the customer’s favor. They usually offer a store credit rather than cash for undocumented returns but they usually make it very easy even without a receipt. Some stores have been known to take things back that they don’t even sell. Wal-Mart and home improvement stores like Home Depot have generous return policies. The only chain that I have ever had a problem with returns is Target who were complete dicks to me a couple of times and refused returns on items that I had a receipt for. That is rare in the U.S.

I’m trying to Google it, but “Bush official steals” is not really narrowing it down.

Dillard’s Department Stores get around this by sticking a special yellow sticker on the back of the price tag of each item purchased. The sticker contains a bar code that is used to track the history of purchases. Thus, when you attempt to return an item, the company knows when it was bought, and for how much.

Without the sticker, getting a return accepted is very rare. Used to be fun as a manager to tell the thieves they couldn’t get a return credit. :smiley:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11770707/ The former official mentioned upthread /hijack

We used to code the boxes for expensive items back in the early eighties. None of the customers knew the price and store was encoded in the numbers. the cashiers used it to verify a tag wasn’t switched, but it was also useful when a person claimed they bought it here.

That quite possibly is just a bad Target employee, and/or bad store location. I work for a similar big box (koffmentionedbyyou) and, while there’s a basic set of return policies each store theoretically follows, individual store managers will often set some in-house rules, and individual customer service managers may happen to be really stringent on what returns they’ll allow on their watch. (As an example, my store recently got a new store manager who’s decided that returns can only be done 7 am to 10 pm, no exceptions. We’re a 24-hour store, and have the customer service staff up front to handle the two or three returns that occur overnight. Go figure. We’ve already angered quite a few people.)

Nordstrom’s is a higher-end chain notorious for their return policies, especially on shoes. Their shoe policy is: 100% refund, no time limit, no receipt needed, no questions asked. Kids outgrew their shoes? You’ve worn your shoes out? Spilled battery acid on them? No matter what, if you try to buy replacements, they will try to force those replacements on you for free.

I once returned something to Target, I think without receipt? Anyway, they told me I had exactly one hour to exchange it for something from the same department, GO GO GO! It was like being on a really shitty game show.

Huh. I’ve had very good experiences at Target, even without a reciept.

You just jogged my memory about that. Target did the exact same thing to me another time. I had to pick out a replacement item from the same department for the value of the exchange or less right away. There was no true store credit. I just had to scamper and find something we might need from the same department (in this case it was the baby department). I ended up just getting a couple of months supply of diapers and I also felt the pressure. They even made me get to the back of the line when I came back to the customer service department.

It was jarring because it was so unlike most stores in the U.S. I thought they cared about their image enough to at least try to be similar to Wal-Mart when it comes to exchanges.

So when you come back late do they try to keep the product too? What a bunch of cock n bull. Maybe the corporate management was ex insurance executives. Make them do mindless tasks until they leave without an exchange or we’ll fire you.