Home' LAPTOP Magazine : December 2010 Contents www.laptopmag.com
LAPTOP | December 2010
Before you buy tech as a gift,
know the fine print.
by Meghan J. McDonough
While giving and receiving gifts should
ideally be as simple as "Enjoy. I hope you
like it!" that's rarely the case. Notebooks
and smart phones in particular are intensely per-
sonal products, which means there's a very good
chance that a gadget lover on your list might prefer
something other than what you bought. At the same
time, you might not be all that psyched about one
of the gadget gifts you receive this holiday season,
whether it's because it doesn't have the design you
crave or it's missing the specs you want.
So when it comes time to return that gear, what
are the ground rules? Furthermore, how do you
handle returning a thoughtfully purchased laptop
or phone with a rebate attached to it? Should you
be worried about restocking fees? Here's everything
you need to know.
If you're the recipient of a notebook or smart phone
that isn't right for you, you've got a few options
based on where the giver purchased it. Above all
else, you'll want to act fast if you decide to return
the gift. The vast majority of retailers provide a
narrow 15-day window for computer and smart
phone returns. During the holiday season, some
retailers lengthen this window, but it's still short.
For instance, Walmart typically has a 15-day return
policy for computers and "postpaid cell phones." If
you purchase either of these kinds of items November
15th through December 25th, the 15-day return
clock starts ticking on December 26th.
The best return scenario in terms of etiquette?
Hope that the gift you want to return was pur-
chased from Amazon.com. The mega e-tailer has
a specific process for gift recipients to return an
item in exchange for a gift card without alerting
the giver, as long as the recipient has the order
number (which is included on the packing slip).
Even without the order number, recipients can
contact customer service, who will help locate
the order and issue a credit. Target.com offers a
similar service for gifts without order numbers.
With smart phones, returning any handset that's
discounted on a two-year contract is apt to become
sticky---especially without a receipt. Due to the
question of who will be paying the phone bill, as
well as credit checks, phone number transfers and
the like, we suggest going to the store with the gift
recipient. Alternatively, you can avoid this mess in
the first place by giving someone a gift card, avail-
able from all four major carriers. Verizon Wireless
will even refund a gift card when accompanied by
the original receipt.
What if you want to return an item without a receipt?
This is where your experience from store to store begins
to differ wildly. Walmart will let you return up to three
items in a 45-day time period without a receipt, but
Best Buy and Office Depot require a receipt for all
technology returns. In this case, you'll have to fess up
to the giver that you're returning the gift. Meanwhile,
Radio Shack will give you store credit for the current
selling price of the item without a receipt.
Restocking fees are the nasty little percentage
retailers charge for opening a gadget's box---not
necessarily turning it on, just breaking the box's
seal. The percentage varies by retailers from
10- to 15-percent of the purchase price. While
AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless charge a flat
$35 restocking fee, it's worth noting that HP.com,
Staples, and Walmart do not charge any restocking
fees. Office Depot also waives the fee if nothing is
missing from the opened box. Likewise, Best Buy
will waive the restocking fee if you present your
Rewards Zone membership card.
The best way to avoid the dreaded restocking
fee is to not open the box. However, if the excite-
ment of Christmas morning is too much to bear, try
speaking with a customer service rep and explain-
ing that the item was a gift. While it may or may
not reduce the restocking fee, it could earn you a
coupon towards your replacement purchase.
Rebates in the tech world have become just about
Links Archive January 2011 November 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page