Returning unwanted Christmas gifts

They do say “it’s better to give than to receive” and that’s so true at Christmas. How wonderful is it to see your loved one’s eyes light up when they open the present you lovingly chose for them……. until you both realise – it’s the wrong colour, it doesn’t fit or even worse, they already have it.  “That’s ok,” you say, “you can take it back after Christmas“…or can they ? How well do you know your Consumer rights ?  Our Consumer law specialist Patricia Wollington shares her top ten seasonal tips :

  1.   Keep the receipt.   There is no automatic right to return goods that are not faulty. Most High Street retailers go above and beyond what they are duty bound to do, for example, exchanging or refunding on goods that you just don’t like but are not faulty, so make it easy for both sides and keep the receipt as proof of purchase.
  2.   Gift receipt      Some of the larger retailers have produced “gift receipts” to deal with the issue of giving a present and your loved one then having to bring it back.  If in doubt, ask for a gift receipt.
  3.   Don’t delay      If you do want to return goods, don’t leave it too long – check the returns policy. Again, you will probably have an easier time with the High Street stores, but even they would raise an eyebrow at a winter jumper being returned in June !
  4.   Returns Policy     Every retailer should have a returns policy that you can check before you buy – and that includes online retailers (see below for more on online retail).  Do read the small print – this will include the detail, such as excluding certain items e.g. chocolate as it’s perishable.
  5.   Keep the packaging     Where possible, try to persuade your loved one to open boxes etc. carefully, especially with expensive items because some retailers will specify returns have to include all the original packaging.
  6.   Contracting party      As a matter of law, your contract is with the retailer who sold the goods to you, not the manufacturer, but do remember point 1 above – no automatic right to a refund on non-faulty goods
  7.   Vouchers     They usually have a time limit so make sure you check this carefully.  On a practical note, do spend them quickly in case the retailer goes bust – it has happened !
  8.   Use your Credit Card     Used in the right way (i.e. paid off regularly) credit cards are extremely useful when you have a dispute about larger items (over £100) or the company goes into liquidation as they give you additional rights under the Consumer Credit Act Section 75
  9.    Buying Online     There are variations if you buy goods online because you are at a “distance”, for example, once you place your order, you have 14 days after receipt of the goods to cancel.
  10.   Faulty Goods       These seasonal tips are really for unwanted goods – not faulty.  For faulty goods, you need a different approach. If goods (and services for that matter) are faulty and are not :
    • Satisfactory quality
    • As described
    • Fit for purpose
    • Lasting a reasonable time

    your approach and rights are in the Consumer Rights Act 2015

We wish you all a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year – happy shopping, now you know your rights!  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Patricia Wollington on 0208 363 4444