Christmas returns policies: the saints and sinners

Published by Laura Whitcombe on 24 December 2014.
Last updated on 24 December 2014

Returns and refunds

The best and worst shops for returning unwanted Christmas presents have been revealed by free online complaints service resolver.

The real saint among the big retailers is John Lewis, according to resolver, with a three-month grace period for getting a refund from returning goods bought in store or online. Goods bought from JohnLewis.com can be returned free and the delivery charge will be refunded.

It is common for stores to offer 28-day refund periods as standard but over Christmas many extend this to give shoppers extra time to return items bought well in advance of 25 December.

While no other big stores offer such a lengthy refund period as John Lewis, some retailers are extending theirs until the end of January. These include: Debenhams, Ernest Jones and Mothercare.

Several more will give refunds on returns made by mid-January, such as Monsoon (22 Jan), New Look (21st), M&S (17th) Toys R Us (16th) and Next (mid-January).

At the other end of the Christmas returns spectrum are the sinners. Online retailer Iwantoneofthose.com is the real baddy, according to resolver. Customers have just 14 days to return unwanted gifts and have to pay for the postage.

Apple appears next on the worst offender list. Again, there are just 14 days to return goods in order to receive a refund and gifts must be in the original packaging.

Resolver also picks out Maplin Electronics for criticism. While it gives customers 30 days to return goods, a restocking fee of £10 or 20% of the price applies.

JD Sports is also on the stingy side, only issuing refunds for returns made until 5 January, and customers returning gifts bought online have to pay the postage.

James Walker, founder and chief executive of resolver, said: "Returns policies are generally set from the point at which the item is sold or - if bought online - delivered, so returning a Christmas gift isn't always easy.

"There are plenty of retailers out there with much more tricky returns policies. Some of these might be fine for ordinary purchases, but if you're buying before Christmas, you need to make sure you pick the right time."

Here are resolver's best and worst returns lists across some different gift categories:

Books: Best to worst
1. John Lewis (90 days, free returns, refund of postage)
2. Amazon (31 January & free postage)
3. Waterstones (30 days & free online return postage)
4. WHSmith (30 days & paid returns)
5. Tesco Direct (28 days, paid returns or to store)

Games & DVDs
1. Amazon (30 days & paid returns)
2. Argos (30 days & return to store)
3. Tesco Direct (28 days & paid returns but can take back to
store)
4. GAME (28 days & paid returns)
5. HMV (21 days & paid returns)

Perfume
1. Debenhams (end of January, paid returns)
2. Amazon (30 days, paid returns)
3. Boots (28 days, free returns)
4. Superdrug and House of Fraser (14 days & free returns)

Toys
1. John Lewis (90 days, free returns, refund original postage)
2. Toys R Us (16 Jan, free online)
3. Argos (30 days, free returns to store)
4. Boots (28 days & free online returns)
5. WHSmith (28 days)

Electrical goods
1. John Lewis (90 days, free returns, refund original postage)
2. Currys (return by 14 January, free postage for online orders)
3. PC World (return by 14 January, free postage)
4. Argos (return in 30 days of purchase)
5. Maplin Electronics (30 days to return, you pay postage, a 'restocking fee' of 20% of the cost of the goods applies subject to a minimum of £10).

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