Len Dastard on your rights to returning Christmas gifts

Saludos grasa pavos! Ha ha ha, it is I, Len Dastard! I am a litigation executive, dealing with contract disputes for a living. However, to mask my true identity from many maridos de muchas putas, I pose as a retired Mexican wrestler who fought in the ring as El Bastardo, Murderer of Dreams.

You doubt my word? I will rip your throat out, you pedazo de mierda puta. Ha ha ha. Just my little joke, of course. Ha ha ha.

Now Christmas is out of the way you might be wondering what rights you have to return one of the many unwanted gifts you received. It is advisable to look at the individual retailers website to check their returns policy and see what they offer by way of refunds or exchanges.

The reasons for returning an item can mean different rights. If you are returning an item because you don't want it or you have simply changed your mind then the shops returns policy will prevail.

There is a big difference with items purchased online. The Distance Selling Regulations allow a seven day cooling off period (starting when you receive the goods) in which time you can return the goods. Contracts for services differ and the cooling off period is seven days from the start of the service. There are exceptions to these Regulations such as perishable goods and personalised gifts.

If you are returning an item because it is faulty you are afforded more rights by law. These rights are given under Sale of Goods Act 1979. Knowing the basics of this Act should, in my opinion, be made a compulsory training topic for those working in retail. It is not a massive Act but it is so important.

When you buy a product it should:

• match the description;
• be of satisfactory quality - appearance and finish, freedom from minor defects, safe to use, in good working order and durability; and
• be fit for purpose.

Getting to know the above is important, but it is always advisable to know exactly which section of Sale of Goods Act 1979 you intend to rely on as opposed to just quoting the Act.

If you are returning an item that is faulty you will not need to provide the receipt if this is lost. You will still need to show proof of purchase which could be from your bank statement. Sadly this rule does not apply if you are returning an unwanted item. The store's returns policy once again kicks in and if they insist on you providing a receipt under their policy then there is no law which states you do not have to provide this.

For future reference - when you buy a gift for a loved one, be sure to ask the shop assistant to write "GIFT" on the receipt so the shop is aware that it is for someone else; the recipient of your gift does not have a contract with the retailer - you do. However, by writing "GIFT" on the receipt you can then rely on Contracts (Rights of Third Parties Act) 1999 to transfer the rights to another person.

Have you already tried to return an unwanted or faulty item? Do you dream of me wrestling your wife into breathless submission while you watch on from the wardrobe? Either way, contact me at Bitterwallet.


  • El F.
    Heres a question for you Len: My 3rd xbox has just broken again. It's been pretty much exactly one year to the day that I bought it (maybe one or two days under a year). Now, I don't have the receipt, and I don't have the box (possibly should have all the accessories etc). However, I have decided I do not want another xbox due to the fact they are all inherently faulty and this has proven it. Is it possible for me to take it back and get a refund/credit note for the faulty xbox, due to the fact that the merchant (Game) cannot guarantee that the replacement they give me, will be free from fault, as required by the Sales of Goods Act? If they knowingly give me a replacement that has an inherent design fault, they are in violoation of the SOGA, right? Ta, El Chapitan De La Ferveza
  • LanceVance
    If you bought it from game then they will have the console number listed somewhere in store. That proves you bought it from them. They should give you the credit back on a store card.
  • Richard
    Under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties Act) 1999 the third party to the contract (the recipient) must be identified - so I don't think writing 'gift' on the receipt would be enough. If you are the recipient (and given that you have not been identified as required by the Act) then I think you are entirely dependent on in-store policy/goodwill - because, as you say, you don't have a contract. Thus your information about SoGA and the DSR is irrelevant unless you buy presents for yourself. El Chapitan, probably not. You right is to a repair - you have had the item too long (have 'accepted' it in SoGA speak) to return it. I think you would have difficulty proving that there is an inherent fault which affects all xboxes.
  • Len D.
    Richard - that is one of the two rules under the Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999. The second rule being that the contract purports to confer a benefit. Usually shops will (I know that M&S always ask at Christmas) to print out a gift receipt. If the shop has been made sufficiently aware that these gifts are to be for the benefit of another person (the third party) then they can then still have a claim under SoGA. It is obviously down to other factors of how you made the store aware and what they consider adequate. How reasonable is it for you to detail to the store the very person that this is for. The easiest way to deal with a potential return is to ask the purchaser to deal with this if possible.
  • Len D.
    El Chapitan - I am sure that Microsoft would argue that not all X-Box consoles are inherently faulty. You may have some luck if you were to write them a politely worded letter but I do not think you would have a strong claim under SoGA based on the length of time you have had the machine. Try it. Len
  • Isaac H.
    El Chapitan De La Ferveza Microsoft extended warranty to 3 years for rrod and e74 faults provided you haven't been inside case Check at http://support.xbox.com/en-gb/Pages/default.aspx Collected from your home free of charge.
  • warwick h.
    Or you can try this little known method. http://ec.europa.eu/publications/booklets/move/64/index_en.htm

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