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Xenia Valdez, left, assists Sgt. 1st Class Ruby Alexander with Christmas gifts she was returning at the Hainerberg Main Exchange in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Tuesday.
Xenia Valdez, left, assists Sgt. 1st Class Ruby Alexander with Christmas gifts she was returning at the Hainerberg Main Exchange in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Tuesday. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)
Xenia Valdez, left, assists Sgt. 1st Class Ruby Alexander with Christmas gifts she was returning at the Hainerberg Main Exchange in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Tuesday.
Xenia Valdez, left, assists Sgt. 1st Class Ruby Alexander with Christmas gifts she was returning at the Hainerberg Main Exchange in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Tuesday. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)
Sigrid Fontanez and her daughter Lisa check out some bargains on Christmas cards at the Hainerberg Main Exchange on Tuesday.
Sigrid Fontanez and her daughter Lisa check out some bargains on Christmas cards at the Hainerberg Main Exchange on Tuesday. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)

WIESBADEN, Germany — Shoppers should be pleasantly surprised when returning gifts at post and base exchanges, thanks to liberal return policies and holiday sale prices, Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials say.

AAFES stores are offering hassle-free exchanges and using gift cards to give in-store credit for returns without receipts.

Merchandise brought in for a refund must have a receipt for cash back; otherwise, an AAFES gift card will be given for in-store credit at customer service counters, said Lorie Sanborn, sales and merchandise manager at the Hainerberg Shopping Center exchange in Wiesbaden. A bit of a warning: Gifts returned without receipts might take on new sales prices, AAFES officials said.

Merchandise being exchanged for the same item, just of a different size, should be taken to an AAFES representative on the sales floor to ask for an exchange, Sanborn said, helping shoppers avoid lines at the service counters.

Most items — with or without receipts — must be returned to the store within 90 days, said Sanborn. However, unopened music, movies and games must be returned 45 days from purchase; all jewelry and watches must be returned 30 days from purchase; and computers and unopened software have only a 15-day window.

These time limitations are written on the back of every AAFES receipt, Sanborn said.

It is not necessary for merchandise to be returned at the store where it was purchased, she said.

“AAFES is spread out so far that, as long as the person has the item with the UPC code on it, it will be accepted,” Sanborn said.

She said while gifts are being returned, shoppers also could take advantage of after-holiday sales. In the Wiesbaden store, all Christmas items are between 50 percent and 75 percent off, plus there are many markdowns throughout the store.

“I’m all for it,” said Sigrid Fontanez, who had traveled from Hanau to shop with her daughter, Lisa, 15. “I’m definitely going to pick up Christmas cards, tissue and wrapping paper, and other Christmas items. I hope I get everything for 75 percent off.

“They should put the merchandise up front. At first I thought I missed it all, but then I got to the back of the store and saw all the sales. It’s nice.”

Customers can view the next two weeks of sales for Europe and other exchanges around the world by clicking on the “AAFES sales flyers” link at www.aafes.com, according to Debbie Byerly, an AAFES spokeswoman.

“Individual stores will also have local area manager’s specials on seasonal merchandise,” Byerly said. “These sales will vary by store and date, as no two stores normally have the same excesses on hand due to individual store product mix differences.”

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