What to do with doodads

Some people will receive a tech toy for Christmas. It many cases the item will be exactly what was desired. In others, it may be less than desired or perhaps the third digital doodad received in the past year. Depending on which category the gizmo fits into, there are a few things to do that could save aggravation down the road.

Start by rounding up all the paperwork, including the receipt, to a safe location. Even if the plan is to keep the item, gift recipients should save the box, the packing materials and any accessories. That way, any returns covered by the warranty should be easier.

Love the new device and plan to keep it? Complete the warranty card and mail it or do the on-line registration. Less expensive gifts may not matter as much as more expensive things, but the easiest time to complete the chore is now. Beyond smoothing the way for possible warranty issues, registering allows the manufacturer to provide notification for any recalls or consumer alerts.

Not feeling the love for the new gadget? Retailers have return policies that differ depending on the device. Electronic items typically have a very short period in which to make a return, in some cases as short as 14 days. So the recipe for an easy return is simple: don't waste time. Get everything together and get to the store promptly.

While shopping this past week I asked representatives from local stores about their return policy. Each retailer has similar policies. For instance, some allow return of an item bought on-line to the local store while others do not. The 14 day return policy is somewhat relaxed but how it's relaxed varies widely between retailers. All the reps suggested checking the corporate Web site for more information.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in computer repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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