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This Just In: December 30 - January 6 

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Beating the Wrap

Summary: Almost before you opened that gift, your gift-returning tips have been graciously expedited! Reporter: John Shumway, KDKA Channel 2 Airtime: 3 minutes, 47 seconds on Dec. 24 Highlights: * When anchor Ken Rice opens with a line that makes Christmas sound like dental surgery: "You know, just the mere thought of it can make grown men and women shudder: the dreaded unwanted Christmas gift, and the even more dreaded trip to the store to return it." * When Shumway tells the grim tale of gifts unwanted: "I'm not sure who said it first, but someone, somewhere along the way, came up with, 'It's the thought that counts.' Clearly, they must have been looking at that gift -- you know the one -- the 'uh, thanks' gift." * After we hear about a liberal "no questions asked" return policy at a high-end department store, Shumway warns, "But many others are not so anxious to honor returns. ... Here is the hardcore reality of Pennsylvania law." * When Becky Maier of the Better Business Bureau says, "[Retailers] are not required to do anything for you. Every store's policy is different." * When Shumway adds, "In fact, the only law is that retailers must have a return policy and live up to it." * Shumway's advice: "And yes, the receipt is critical. If you do find yourself without a receipt, keep in mind that you are throwing yourself on the mercy of the customer-service folks." * When Shumway offers, "If there's even an inkling that you're going to return the gift, don't even break the seal on the packaging." Then, he gets to my favorite tip: "Make sure you have a receipt or a gift receipt if you can. Even if it means going back to the giver and asking if they still have the receipt. After all, it's the holiday, and if they do have the receipt, they're gonna be more than happy to give it to you." * When Shumway wraps up, "If you do go back to return something, be nice to the people at customer service. Sometimes these return policies are marginal, and a smile may make a difference. Have a merry Christmas!" Unanswered Question: Hey, John -- have you ever tried shaking my grandmother down for a gift receipt? What We Learned: This may not be the best story, but it's the thought that counts. News Value: 3. Good advice, but nothing much new here. My own pet peeve is places that won't give you cash back on a return for a debit-card purchase. Also, let's hear more about online clearinghouses. You seem to need a great deal of diligence with Amazon.com, for example, the online store that has more of everything -- except people. 

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