Consumer Watch: Easiest ways to deal with customer service

Expect longer customer service wait times after the holidays. (KOKH/file)

Christmas is officially over, but heavy foot traffic at stores is not over just yet. Whether you are trying to return or exchange a product just after the holiday, you probably feel a sense of urgency, and there is something to that. Many times, you only have a limited time to get your money back, but it doesn't have to be horribly stressful.

The three main things to remember if you have items to return are;

  1. Be patient
  2. Be kind
  3. Have realistic expectations

More practically, it is also important to keep track of your conversations when dealing with a difficult return or exchange.

“Ask for names, ask for employee numbers, write down extensions, and direct lines, and always write everything down,” says Jen Smith, a personal financed expert with The Penny Hoarder.

Smith adds that contacting customer service by phone is usually the fastest, but there are other options if you don't have time to be transferred a few times or wait on hold.

“Leaving an email or a ticket with the help desk is also fast. and you can also try Twitter. Some companies are really responsive to their customer service Twitter account,” says Smith.

Whether you are contacting them by phone or making returns in person, expect longer than normal wait times.

We've got your back with these tips on returning gifts from Consumer Reports:

  • Don't open a box- especially if it's electronics.
  • Keep those receipts.
  • Check a stores return policies before heading out.
  • Bring your ID because many stores keep track of who is making returns to avoid abuse of the system.

The Penny Hoarder and Consumer Reports both say a quick online search or a phone call are the fastest ways to check a store’s policies. Most places give you 90 days for the average return.

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