Saturday, July 26, 2014 · 11:11 a.m.
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A number of consumers will return holiday gifts this year. The process can be a hassle for customers and retailers. (Photo: Contributed)

For some people, it may be an inevitable part of the holiday routine—returning unwanted gifts. 

And some retailers make returns and exchanges easier than others, according to USA Today

Customer service company StellaService found that 14 out of the top 25 retailers took longer to process refunds this November compared to the same time last year. 

Leaders with StellaService evaluated the refund process at those stores in November and compared that to the same time last year. 

Sears.com's process took the longest—16 days more than the previous year. 

A Sears spokesman told USA Today that more than two weeks was nowhere near the company's standards. 

Return fraud 

According to the National Retail Federation, return fraud costs retailers billions of dollars annually. 

Return fraud is when criminals return stolen merchandise, use counterfeit receipts or return already-used items. 

The industry will lose about $8.9 billion to return fraud this year and $2.9 billion during the holiday season.

Retailers estimate that 4.6 percent of returns made during the holiday season are fraudulent. 

Source: National Retail Federation 

Amazon.com and HP.com had the fastest refund processing at 3.7 days, according to StellaService.

According to MarketWatch.com, a third of stores have changed their return policies for the holiday season, so shoppers have until as late as the middle of February to return something bought in November and December. 

But it still varies from year to year and from store to store. 

Consumer Reports and Daily Finance recently offered tips for shoppers who will be returning gifts. 

Keeping gift receipts and being aware of potential repacking fees made the list. 

And leaders with Pizza Hut offered a unique opportunity to get something for an unwanted gift. 

Consumers could take a photo of the unwanted gift, tweet the picture to @PizzaHut with the hashtag #PizzaHutExchange and get a gift card for a pizza, according to The Huffington Post. 

According to Pizza Hut's Twitter feed, leaders with the pizza chain have already stopped taking submissions for the giveaway. 

Anyone who doesn't want to deal with the process of exchanging or returning a gift can consider regifting it to someone whom it better suits. Recent research showed that many think regifting is appropriate, according to Nooga.com archives

Maybe local people looking to return gifts this year are more appreciative, or at least more discreet, than these kids who took to Twitter to complain about getting the wrong expensive electronics. 

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