By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Remember, it’s the thought that counts, and that’s why millions of Americans will head back into stores next week to return gifts that missed the mark during the holidays.

3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has some advice to make those returns hassle free.

The gifts we receive during the holidays aren’t always a perfect fit, or perfect match. If you plan to return items, you’ll want to have a receipt.

Tod Marks, Senior Editor at Consumer Reports says, “Without a gift receipt or a regular receipt, you’re going to get back either a merchandise credit, or you’re going to be reimbursed the lowest amount the item sold for, not necessarily what you paid for it.”

Keep stickers, labels, and tags intact. Some stores will charge a restocking fee — and in the case of some electronics, a re-packaging fee — if they’ll take an opened item back at all.

According to Marks, “You want to be sure to not open the packaging, if you’re not sure you want it. Because, forget it — you can leave all the tags and labels on the item, but if you destroy the packaging or rip it apart, again, you’ll have a much more difficult time returning it.”

Most retailers will list the terms of their return policy on your receipt, and if that still doesn’t make it clear, ask someone in the store when you check out. Some retailers will allow merchandise purchased online to be returned or exchanged in their brick-and-mortar stores but not all of them.

So be sure to read the policy on their website for details.