How to deal with the dreaded unwanted Christmas Gift
So its the first full working week of the year, Christmas and New Year are well out the way. The chances are you received some gifts that were not what you'd hoped for. Whilst you can't make up for the disappointment of unwrapping a faulty gadget or ill fitting clothing, you may be able to get a refund, an exchange or a repair.
Your rights to a refund depend on where it was bought (e.g. online or in-store), and importantly, whether its faulty. If its just an unwanted gift, the rights you have are much reduced, but you still have some so don't give up hope!
The gift is not working, what can I do?
The Sale of Goods Act requires the retailer to take responsibility for providing goods that are "of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time". So if its faulty of damaged, by law the retailer (not the manufacturer) needs to sort it out – so as long as you take it back to where it was bought within a month and you're legally entitled to a refund.
What proof do you need to return a faulty item?
Legally you only need proof of purchase, so credit card/bank statements are just as good as a receipt. It's a common misconception that you need a receipt to return faulty goods.
Does the person who bought it have to return it?
Buying an item is the beginning of a contract between the purchaser and the retailer. So in some cases you may need to ask the person who bought it for you to take it back to the shop or give you a receipt. However, if an item's faulty, and you've proof of purchase or a gift receipt, many retailers will deal directly with you if you received the gift.
But its in the sale! Can I still return it?
The policy of an individual store has no effect on the law of the land. Faulty items, discounted or not, are subject to the same rules.
How long have I got to return it?
The short answer is that you have roughly a month to get a full refund. After a month under the law you're classed as having 'accepted the goods', so getting a refund is much more difficult. Although, do remember that you still have rights. Under the Sales of Goods Act goods must "last a reasonable length of time". So after the month is up and before the six month mark, the onus is on the retailer to prove the goods weren't faulty from the first purchase. If they can't place the responsibility elsewhere, you'r due a free repair or replacement. After six months, it gets a lot more tricky as you must prove it was faulty when sold. And finally, you actually have up to six years to claim. In effect that's the maximum time you have to take back faulty goods. If an expensive electrical gadget fails after a year or so, you've still a good shot at getting a repair or refund.
What if my item was bought online and I can't take it in-store?
The rules for buying online are slightly different from buying in store, under the law you have the right to send goods back even if they're not faulty.
Due to the Distance Selling Regulations if you buy online, by mail order or catalogue from an UK or EU-based business, then you have a no-fault right to return the goods.
However, this only applies if you tell the retailer within seven days. There are some exceptions to this rule, including personalised gifts and perishables.
I don't like it!
When it comes to faulty or damaged goods the final word is the law. With unwanted gifts, it is at the stores discretion and their own policy dictates the outcome, as they're under no obligation to give you anything.
A lot of stores do however allow returns and exchanges as to not upset customers. Usually the item has to be unused and in its original packaging.
Can I return everything?
Personalised items are unlikely to be excepted by the store if they're not damaged, as they will be unable to resell them.
Retailers will also usually refuse to refund perishables such as food and flowers, as well as items such as a DVDs, CDs and games if they have been opened.
What do I need to return a gift?
It may be slightly embarrassing but you'll need to ask the gift buyer to provide you with the receipt to stand any chance of getting a refund or credit note.
If the store do offer you a refund and the item was bought on a card, you'll need the buyers debit or credit card to get the money back. But its the Wrong Size!Can I change it?
An item being the wrong size doesn't count as a fault, so its again down to the stores discretion as to whether you can get a refund. Always ask though.
If all else fails, sell it on!
The chances are even if you don't want it, someone, somewhere will. List it on eBay and you never know you may get more for it than you thought.