Ever wonder what to do with something you ordered or bought here in Japan, but realized soon after that it doesn't fit, or work, or something else undesirable?
I had this problem during my first years here, when I accidentally bought something that didn't fit or realized I actually didn't want what I had bought after a couple days. Every time I asked someone how I could go about doing a return, yes even those who speak Japanese, they didn't know what to do. They had never done it before, they said. Maybe it's just me, but I'm a buy it and try it kind of gal. And call me strange, but I'm also far too lazy to try on clothes at the store, and do my best to guess the size (which explains my inclination to shop online). Usually, these tactics are successful. But on the rare occasion that something just doesn't fit, (or you later decide you hate it, or maybe shouldn't have spent that much money on it), what to do?
Now, some stores, just like in your home countries, have specifications on returning items. Some may be strict about it, while others will allow you to return anything (of course, with a receipt, otherwise that can vary too, whether they will take the item without a receipt or offer an exchange instead). I won't go into those specifics though, and if you really need to know the policy, kindly ask someone to read the back or bottom of your receipt (if it has a return policy printed on it...). If that all fails, just try taking it back. They will let you know if they absolutely will not take the item back, and you probably won't need to understand any Japanese to get that. (At least, if you can read body language, voice tones and social cues).
Here's what I did the first time:
I took my unworn, too-small T-shirt with the receipt back to the store. Walked up the counter and said "henpin shitain desu ga..." (返品したいんですが, へんぴんしたいんですが). The employee asked me to write and sign my name on the return slip and refunded my money. Simple, quick, and I was rid of the shirt that would not fit.
The key word here is 返品 (henpin), which means return (goods; back to the manufacturer, etc). Add the "do" verb する to the end and all together it becomes a verb. 返品する. Then we conjugate する to したい ("do" becomes "want to do", essentially). The whole sentence itself just sounds polite, but even if you just say "henpin" while holding something, the employees will still understand what you want to do.
Other stores won't require you to sign anything, but will just process the return and refund your money with no problem. So far I've had no problems, but it may depend on the store.
Then of course there are those of you who could do this and more with great flourish, so if you have additional tips, feel free to share!