Fightin’ Words: Is it wrong to return holiday gifts?

“No”

Suzanne Buchholz, Reporter

Suzanne mugThe holiday season is over. Decorations have been stored away for another year and Christmas trees sit by the curb waiting to be picked up by trash collectors. People are making resolutions to
lose weight and eat healthier, swearing to lose the pounds they’ve gained during the holidays. All of the gifts have been unwrapped and put to good use…or have they?

Sometimes it just can’t be helped–as hard as family and friends try to give the perfect gift, sometimes they don’t manage to hit the mark and leave the recipient with a present they really
don’t want. There are a few options of what to do with the present in question, such as regifting it to someone else or donating it. There’s one more option that’s slightly more controversial,
however: returning the gift to the store in exchange for something they’ll actually like or use.

Many people question whether this option is wrong, but that’s not necessarily the case.

To begin with, not every gift is returned simply because the recipient didn’t like it. According to a report on the CNN website, it’s usually acceptable to return or exchange a gift if there’s a compelling reason to do so. For example, if someone received a sweater that’s a couple sizes too small or a DVD disc that’s broken in half, there’s no reason the recipient can’t take it back to the store and return it or exchange it for the right size or a non-damaged copy. In this case, returning or exchanging the gift would be the best way to be able to enjoy what they were given, instead
of being stuck with something they can’t use.

Some people might look at it from the perspective of the stores who have to process returns and exchanges–for them, it isn’t as simple as handing the customer their money and putting the item on the shelf again. Returned merchandise must be processed and reevaluated before they can be resold, and in some cases–even if the item isn’t defective–it can’t be put back on the shelves. Some
people might think this hurts the store’s profits or causes them extra trouble, but most chain retailers have methods of handling the onslaught of holiday returns as effectively as possible. According to the Los Angeles Times website, certain chain stores such as Gap that have outlet stores usually ship merchandise there to be sold at a discounted price. Other stores partner with Optoro, a technology firm that analyzes the data of rejected items and calculates their worth so the stores can decide how to best deal with them and make the most money, whether it’s worth it to send the item to a wholesale store or scrap it. While stores still take some losses, there are measures in place to prevent any huge losses.

Finally, some people might argue that returning gifts is simply rude and ungrateful, regardless of the reason. But just because someone returns a gift doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate the gesture. As The Consumerist website points out, returning a gift doesn’t cancel out the original meaning of the gift. People give gifts to make other people feel happy and
loved. The recipient should keep this in mind, and know that it was the thought that counts rather than the gift itself. As long as this key thought is acknowledged, the recipient shouldn’t
feel guilty about returning the gift.

In the end, it’s usually up to personal beliefs for whether or not it’s appropriate to return holiday gifts. But people shouldn’t feel guilty if they decide to take back a gift they received, whatever their
reason. As long as people keep the true spirit of giving and generosity in their hearts, their possessions don’t matter.

“Yes”

Alex Heldrich, Reporter

Alex new mugEveryone at one time or another has received an unsatisfactory Christmas present. Maybe it was from an aunt who is only seen twice a year or a senile grandparent who believes that their grandchildren are forever 8 years old. Sometimes these unsatisfactory presents come with a gift receipt, provided as a precaution if something doesn’t fit. Every year after Christmas, Americans flock to stores to return their presents. Many of these people have also been caught red-handed by the original gift giver.

Christmas is commonly dubbed the “season of giving and selflessness,” and for somebody to selfishly reject another’s act of selflessness is wrong. To have someone value money over a carefully chosen, thoughtful gift must be heartbreaking to the gift giver.

Rachel Greene is known for returning the presents she receives from her friends on the popular ’90s sitcom, Friends. While she tried to disguise her dislike for her presents, she never fooled anyone. Her friends were always hurt that she selfishly exchanged their presents to her for something different.

The case is typically the same in real life. It hurts the feelings of loved ones who find out that their act of kindness isn’t appreciated. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

Possibly a lesser known repercussion of returning unwanted Christmas gifts is how it affects the companies that the items are being returned to. According to The Retail Equation, $284 billion of merchandise was returned in the U.S. last year. This phenomenon is increasing in size and at a cost. An online article published by the Los Angeles Times said Best Buy lost 10 percent of its annual revenue due to returns in 2013.

Some people may think companies with annual revenues far into the billions are not hurt by losses in sales due to returns. However, a 10 percent loss out of $1 billion is $100 million. When a company suffers major losses, the minimum wage employees who are working just to get by are the ones who get hurt. Raises are not put in place, employees are laid off and their employee benefits go down.

Employees are also hugely affected by the mass overload of returned items during the post-holiday season. Somebody has to stand at the return counter for hours as they deal with grumpy, selfish people who would rather have store credit than a thoughtful gift from a loved one.

Somebody has to sort through all of the returned items deciding which can be reshelved and which have to go. Somebody has to do inventory for all of the items that are now “defective” because the packaging has been opened before they’re all shipped off to a discount store or back to the vendor. Few people want to get paid $9.47 an hour to deal with the repercussions of having mass amounts of merchandise returned at once.

Returning Christmas presents doesn’t just hurt the giver, it can hurt countless strangers.

If a present is disappointing then don’t use it. If that one aunt is coming over for a family dinner then bite the bullet and wear the ugly sweater she got you. It’ll make her happy, and that’s really gift giving is all about.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Fightin’ Words: Is it wrong to return holiday gifts?

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