How to get a refund on your unwanted Christmas gifts
Although retailers aren't legally obliged to refund you if you simply change your mind, many do so as a gesture of goodwill.
Some shops tend to be more lenient after Christmas and may give you your money back even if the item was bought in the sales. Retailers may also extend their returns period, so check the terms and conditions on the back of the receipt, on the shop’s website, or ask in-store for more details.
Proof of purchase
Always make sure you hold on to the receipt as proof of purchase when returning something. If you simply change your mind about an item, without any proof of purchase, you may only be offered an exchange or, at best, a gift voucher.
Legally, only the person who paid has a right to return faulty goods – although some retailers allow it. So if it’s a gift, ask the retailer to write the name of who it’s for on the receipt, or ask for a gift receipt.
Check for damage
Make sure to check if the gift is damaged or faulty – in this scenario, the retailer is obliged under the law to give you your money back within 30 days. If it’s after 30 days, you’re entitled to a repair or replacement. If that still doesn’t fix the problem, you’re entitled to ask for a refund.
If the seller refuses to give you a refund, you may be able to get your money back via your bank if you paid by debit or credit card. Here, if you paid over £100 on credit card you can use Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you paid on debit card or for something costing less that £100 on credit card, you can try to use the ‘chargeback’ scheme.
Extra protection if you buy online
If you buy something online that you haven’t seen in person, in most scenarios you get a 14-day ‘cooling-off period’ to return the item and get a refund. Exclusions include bespoke or made to measure items.
The retailer has to refund the cost of standard delivery for the item. But if you chose a more expensive delivery option, you’ll have to stump up the difference.
This legal right applies even if the item isn’t faulty.
Issued by a bank as part of a current account and, in a nutshell, serves as electronic cash. Unlike a credit or charge card, where you get an interest-free period before you have to settle the bill, the funds spent on a debit card are withdrawn immediately from your current account. Unless you’ve arranged an overdraft, if you don’t have the cash in the account, you can’t spend it.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.
The period of time you’re allowed, after signing an agreement, to cancel it without incurring a financial penalty. Financial products including banking, credit, insurance, personal pensions and investments are subject to a 14-day cooling-off period (this is 30 days in the case of life insurance and personal pensions). The insurer or broker must refund any money paid by you within 30 days, although it has the right to deduct a reasonable admin charge, and a sum proportionate to the number of days’ cover you had. If you have any related credit agreements, these will also be cancelled.