How to get a refund on your unwanted Christmas gifts

Published by Laura Whitcombe on 25 December 2013.
Last updated on 03 January 2017

unwanted gift

Goodwill gesture

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 others to do so.

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. 

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