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Thursday, December 29, 2005

It's the Thought That Counts

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 65 percent of us return gifts after the holiday.

If your child got two Charlie and the Chocolate Factory DVDs or the sweater from Aunt Elizabeth is two sizes too big, here are a few tips for exchanging unwanted items, thanks to the Web directory, chiff.com.

1. Don't wait too long. Stores often have a time limit for returns, which might vary from a week to 30 days.

2. If you don't know where the gift came from, do some research. If you can't find an identifying label, check the Web for online stores that carry the item. Often any store that carries it will exchange it. However, some stores do not have refund policies and will exchange only at the current price, which could be lower due to sales. Others charge restocking fees, which on big-ticket items like electronics could be hefty -- as much as 20 percent! Also, make sure the store knows the return is a gift, so the credit doesn't show up on the giver's card.

3. Finally, after you've read the latest bestsellers, consider donating them to your nearest library branch. Our branches hold used book sales that help fund the "extras" that help make the Fairfax County Public Library among the best in the nation.

By the way, you can tell us: what was the worst holiday gift you ever received?

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