How to Return a Gift – Your Consumer Rights

returning gifts consumer rights

No matter how well you know somebody, there’s always a chance you might buy the wrong gift, or double up on something already bought. If you want to return a gift, or send any of your purchases back, it’s wise to know your consumer rights. As some of you may already be taking advantage of the New Year high street sales, we thought we’d write a guide all about them.

First things first

It may come as a surprise that shops are under no legal obligation to accept returns unless an item is faulty, not as described or is unfit for purpose. If it isn’t your color or somebody simply doesn’t like the gift, you have no automatic right to return it.

Goodwill returns policy

However, most retailers choose to provide a ‘goodwill’ returns policy, especially at Christmas time offering an exchange, refund or credit note for most returns. Now if a gift is faulty, you do have the right to take it back and ask for a full refund, as long as you do so within a reasonable time period. Most shops will offer a 28-day returns policy. Luckily, many retailers extend their returns policy to help early Christmas shoppers.

Refunds for gifts bought online

If your gift was bought online, over the phone, or by mail order you have additional rights to return it under the Consumer Contracts Regulations. You should get a refund within 14 days of either the trader getting the goods back, or you providing evidence of having returned the goods (for example, a proof of postage receipt from the post office), whichever comes first.

The seller can make a deduction if the value of the gift has been reduced as a result of you handling the goods more than necessary, for instance, wear and tear. The extent to which you’re allowed to handle the gift is the same as if you were looking it over in a shop.

Gifts you can’t return

There are some returns exceptions worth knowing about, such as:

  • DVDs, music and computer software. Many retailers refuse returns if the seal or packaging has been broken.
  • Perishable items. You won’t usually be able to return an item if it’s perishable. This includes food and flowers.
  • Made to order items. If an item has been made to order or personalised it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to return it.

What you need to return a gift

Depending on a shop’s returns policy, some might only offer an exchange or give you a credit note, while some might give you a refund. All shops usually require a few key things:

  • A receipt. Always keep your receipt and take it with you when asking for a refund. If you’re buying a gift for someone else, include the gift receipt so they can change it if they need to. Ask for a gift receipt from the shop. It is not automatic.
  • The card you paid with. If you paid for an item with a credit or debit card, take it with you when you return the item. This is especially important if you want a refund, as it will be credited to the card you paid with.
  • The original packaging. You will need to bring all the gift’s original packaging with you.

Don’t forget, if all else fails, when next Christmas comes around, you’ll have something to wrap up and give away at no cost at all!

If you need advice or encounter a problem this New Year avoid further stress and give our lawyers a call on 0203 002 4898. Or, you can email us at [email protected].

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