January is the busiest month of the year for store returns.
But if you are heading back with some gift receipts, you may not be aware that many "gift receipts" come with a secret most shoppers don't know about.
It turns out a gift receipt is not the same as a regular register receipt.
Thought gift receipt was fine
Barbara Thornton, like so many parents, bought a couple of Christmas gifts for her kids that weren't quite what they had wanted.
"My daughter wanted to return a gift that I had bought for her because she didn't need it," Thornton said.
Only problem: All she had from Bed Bath and Beyond was a gift receipt. "I think I was a little less careful with my original receipt, and it got lost in the wrapping."
But when her daughter tried to tried to get a $40 refund for a table display she didn't want, "the gift receipt wouldn't give her any of her money back,"Thornton said.
She was stunned, having never heard that a gift receipt was good for merchandise credit only.
We checked with Bed Bath and Beyond. It states on their website that while a standard receipt gives you cash back, a gift receipt entitles the recipient to only store credit (unless they have the original credit card number used for purchase).
Many stores limit gift receipt rights
We researched return policies of major retailers and found this is fairly widespread.
Among retailers that will give only an exchange or store credit for returns with a gift receipt in most cases:
Burlington Coat Factory
Bed Bath and Beyond
Barbara Thornton has a message for other parents and shoppers now. "Be a little more careful with that original receipt."
Plus, that way you know what the original selling price was. With a gift receipt, you may not know if you are getting the original price paid or a lower sale price.
As always, don't waste your money.
“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”). The information included in this article was obtained independently by Scripps reporters. While purchases from links inserted in this article may result in a commission for Scripps, no Scripps reporter benefited from that commission.