How to return unwanted gifts

22 December 2008

Whether you want to return unwanted Christmas presents or impulsive purchases from your sales spree, make sure you know your rights at the till.

1. Always keep receipts (and price tags and packaging if possible) as proof of purchase. A lot of shops employ a ‘goodwill policy’ and allow exchange or refunds on items that you’ve gone off or on clothes that don’t fit. When you buy an item ask what its refund policy is.

2. Every shopper has statutory rights – this means items have to be usable, of good quality and match their description. If they don’t, you are entitled to a refund or exchange whether you have the receipt or not.

3. However, legally only the person that buys the gift is entitled to these rights. Consumer Direct says you may still be able to get a refund as a 'third party' if you have a named gift receipt.

4. If you have used a product for a period of time then don't assume any chance of a refund is out the window - you may still be entitled to a repair, replacement or a partial refund if it is faulty.

5. Remember, it’s the trader’s – not the manufacturer’s – responsibility to ensure goods aren’t faulty.

6. Although shops may say sale items are not refundable, if anything you buy at a discount is faulty you are within your rights to return it unless you were told at the time of purchase that it had a defect.

7. For online purchases, you are entitled to a full refund if your order is not provided by the date agreed. If you didn’t agree a date, you are entitled to a refund if the goods or services are not provided within 30 days.

8. You’re not entitled to a refund for goods that were made to your specifications, such as a wedding cake; CDs, DVDs and software that are no longer sealed; or items such as underwear that say so on the packaging.

9. You may be offered vouchers rather than cash. Michele Shambrook, operations manager for Consumer Direct, says: "You won't always be offered a cash refund for unwanted items but you may be able to request an exchange or a credit note."

10. If you want to return something simply because you don't like it, then act quickly as some shops will impose a time limit on non-faulty returns.

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