Tips on how to avoid the hassle of returning holiday gifts

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's that time of the year when shoppers are snatching up the perfect gifts at unbelievable prices. But what if some of those gifts don't work out?

"Invariably right after people make those purchases, the return or exchange or refund always comes into the equation," said Tom Bartholomy who is the CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont and Western North Carolina.

Bartholomy said to be on the safe side, shoppers should take some time to learn stores return policies before buying.

"In the state of North Carolina and South Carolina stores can set whatever policy they want. They just have to have a policy. They can set a policy that says all sales final," he said.

Bartholomy said for that reason, stores can change their policies, add new stipulations and utilize new technologies. For example, Walmart is preparing to roll out a new return feature offering 30-second returns in stores.

"It's going to be quick for the customers so they don't have to wait in those lines." Brandon Rogers, who is a co-manager of a WalMart store.

The policy, which is scheduled to be implemented this month, requires customers to log onto the store's mobile app and select items they've purchased using the app's receipt savings catcher.

"(Shoppers) select the items they wish to return at that time, they can select whether they want to bring the item to the store to complete the process of the return or return it online," Rogers said.

Target has an extended return time frame of one year on Target brand products.

Walmart, Target and other big box stores are hoping flexible return policies will help give them an edge over large online retail websites like Amazon. Kohl's is teaming up with Amazon by accepting Amazon returns at 82 of its stores.

Bartholomy said even when shopping online, shoppers should be proactive by making sure the website is reputable, the return policy is readily available, and by finding out if shipping costs are included in returns as well.

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.