Stores have less forgiving return policies this season

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DENVER -- Did you get a gift that was too small, too big or too ugly?

You’re not alone if your Christmas gifts weren’t all that.  Stores are packed with people making holiday returns -- expected to total more than $62 billion.

For some shoppers, it won’t be as easy, thanks to more restrictive return policies.

The National Retail Federation estimates 7 percent of retailers have tightened those policies.

Kallyn Rand went to the Cherry Creek Shopping Center Wednesday to return a sweater.

The teenager is performing what’s become a post-holiday ritual -- returning gifts that didn’t quite make the grade.

"She was a little upset. But she'll get over it," said Rand about her mom, who gave the gift.

For some, the gift-giving has given them a headache.

“I don't know what the point of a gift receipt is," said shopper Jack Savoie.

He wanted to get his cash back using a gift receipt at Michael Kors.

They told him no.

"Inconvenient, yah. I want to return this. I paid for it," he said about an iPod case for his sister.

He learned the hard way, stores need regular receipts for cash refunds because they state how the buyer paid. A gift receipt does not show that.

Waiting too long to return a gift is another problem.

"Most people pretty understanding of return policy. It's clearly on the receipt," said Edward Schumacher of The Art of the Shave.

At this specialty store, you have 30 days to return or exchange gifts -- and only in original condition. You can’t open the box.

"The return policy set in place protects the company, protects the store from fraud," said  Schumacher.

The National Retail Federation said criminals can steal items and return them for credit, or people can first use gifts, like cameras or clothing, and return it.

Other major retailers, like Sears, are shortening the time to return gifts like electronics—from 60 to 30 days.

For most other gifts the period has dropped from 90 to 60 days.

At Walmart, you have just 15 days to return a camera, down from 30 days.

But most everything else is 90 days.

Same for Target at 90 days -- but electronics is 30 days.

And Best Buy shortened its return period by a week to Jan. 24.

"The line was a little long. But other than that it was fine," says shopper Katherine Manning.

"It wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be to do the returns. I expected really long lines," says shopper Vicky Birnich.

Most shoppers say taking back gifts didn’t put them out this season. 

About three-quarters of retailers require it for a return -- especially without a receipt.

And without that receipt, you’ll get the lowest-sale price on it.

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