When buying presents, always keep receipts in case there is a problem with the goods and they need to be returned. Check that presents are working after you’ve bought them rather than wrapping them up immediately, as faulty goods should always be returned as soon as possible.
There is no legal right to a refund or replacement if a present is the wrong size, colour or style, or it’s unwanted. Exceptions include if the seller agreed to a refund or exchange on return of the goods, and for certain home shopping purchases, which can normally be cancelled for up to seven working days after delivery.
Check whether you have any additional rights, over and above your legal rights, under the seller’s ‘goodwill policy’.
Many shops will have ‘goodwill policies’ of their own. This means the retailer may provide a ‘no quibble’ refund, credit note or allow you to exchange goods within a specified period, even if they are not faulty.
Check with the shop if it has a goodwill policy before you buy a present. This will help prevent problems if the goods aren’t suitable.
Many stores also offer a gift receipt, which reveals all the details of the purchase other than the price, and can make it easier for the recipient to exchange the gift or seek a refund after Christmas.
If you are buying electrical goods, you may be offered an extended warranty by the store. Consider your options and assess the value and the cost of extended warranty offers.
If anything you buy – from gifts to a new set of fairy lights – turns out not to be of satisfactory quality, fit for their purpose or as described, you have a right to return them and get your money back. You should tell the shop that you want to return the goods; while there is no set time limit, the quicker you report the problem, the easier it will be to get a refund.
You are not obliged to accept a credit note, vouchers or the offer of a repair if goods are faulty or mis-described and they are returned within a reasonable time.
With presents, usually it is the person who bought the goods who should take them back, but it is normally proof of purchase – like a receipt – that retailers insist on. While you have the same rights even if you lose the receipt, it’s useful evidence of where and when you bought the goods. Credit or debit card receipts could also be used as proof of purchase.
While the law says that it’s up to the seller to deal with complaints about defective goods, you may have additional rights under manufacturers’ guarantees. You usually have to send off details such as your name, address and date of purchase to validate the guarantee.
Buying in the sales, signs like ‘No returns on sale goods’ may be illegal because they mislead you about your rights. Consumers have the same rights when they buy goods in the New Year sales as at any time of the year. Signs like ‘No returns on sale goods’ may be illegal because they mislead you about your rights. Some sales goods may be reduced because of slight defects, so check carefully. The seller is not obliged to give you your money back if you are complaining about faults pointed out prior to purchase, for example, on signs or labels.
It is against the law for shops to pretend that goods have been reduced from a higher price to the sale price. Generally the goods should have been on sale in the store at the higher price before being reduced. Be aware that some shops buy in goods specifically to sell during sale time.
Credit card protection.
If you have bought goods on a credit card and the price of the item is more than £100 the supplier and the credit provider have the same liability to you.
So if the supplier goes bust before you receive the goods or the contract is broken, you can make the same claim against the credit provider that you would have brought against the supplier.
This protection only applies to purchases made by credit cards, not charge cards or debit cards.
If you complain.
If you complain, go back to the seller, with proof of purchase, keep calm and be sure of your facts. Explain your problem, what you want done and set a deadline. If you are not satisfied, write a letter of complaint to the company’s head office, consumer complaints department or Chairman. Persevere, as you may need to send a follow-up letter.