When, why and how to get a refund on your Christmas presents

30 December 2008

You'd rather have your eyes plucked out than be seen in your new Christmas jumper, the hostess trolley you bought is on the fritz and your new Alexandra Burke CD appears to be blank. You may have got lucky on the last one, but what can you do about the others?

If you're after a refund this Christmas, your rights on the high street depend on whether you bought the goods or they were a gift. The general rule of thumb is that you'll have an easier time of returning goods you bought, than if they were a present from somebody else. Still, here are the basics you need to know:

When it comes to goods you paid for:

  • Plenty of shops don't want the hassle of dealing with refunds and the like during the sales, because it gets in the way of them earning more money; any shop sticking up signs to the effect that refunds and exchanges are not available are breaking the law, so don't be afraid to ask
  • You don't always need a receipt to return goods, just proof of purchase; a credit card or bank statement should be acceptable
  • Regardless of store policy, you do not have to accept anything less than a refund if goods are faulty or not as described; don't let them fob you off with a credit note or replacement if you really want your money back
  • If you didn't buy the goods - if they were a present from a loved one (or even somebody you really don't like) - then everything changes. Shops don't have refund or exchange for gifts you don't want, although plenty do because it's Christmas, after all

There's more good advice from Vince on refunds here, and Consumer Direct have plenty of tips for Crimbo refunds.

TOPICS:   How To Guides   Christmas

11 comments

  • ODB
    But remember...if there is nothing wrong with the product your not entitled to anything... so bullshit convincingly!
  • Doyle
    "Plenty of shops don’t want the hassle of dealing with refunds and the like during the sales, because it gets in the way of them earning more money; any shop sticking up signs to the effect that refunds and exchanges are not available are breaking the law, so don’t be afraid to ask" This just isn't true. No shop (apart from distance sellers) has any legal obligation to offer refunds/exchanges at any time.
  • phil m.
    Refunds are only available if an item is faulty, not if you just don't want it. So there is no law saying that if you purchase from a shop then they must give you a refund. Any shop that gives a refund for unwanted goods is doing so out of their kindness.
  • Paul S.
    @Doyle do you mean shops don't have to provide refunds and exchanges during all business hours, i.e. they can set specific times when they will and won't accept refunds? Otherwise, every shop must offer a full refund if the goods are returned within a reasonable time, and are faulty, incorrectly described or not fit for purpose. As far as I can see, that's how the Sales of Goods Act reads. @phil I think that's what I said, didn't I? I don't think I say that shops have to provide a refund for gifts you don't like; I said you're entitled to a refund for goods you bought that are faulty or not as described, and I said that shops don’t have refund or exchange for gifts you don’t want, although plenty do because it’s Christmas, after all.
  • ODB
    @ Paul - I think its this bit "...to the effect that refunds and exchanges are not available are breaking the law, so don’t be afraid to ask " that makes it look that way IF you miss the bit about SIGNS then I see whee there coming from. They are wrong but think its just a mis-read mistake tbh... Your in the clear lol
  • Doyle
    @Paul Smith I think there's some crossed wires going on here. What I mean is that if you're returning an item just because you don't want it anymore, then they have no legal obligation to take it back; it's their decision when/if to do so, so they're within the law to say they won't do it at certain times of year. However, if it's faulty or not fit for purpose then they can't say "no" regardless of if its sale time or not. When you combine all the bullet points together, it's clear you know this, but the single bullet point is a bit confusing.
  • Paul S.
    I shall polish up my points for next time, chaps :)
  • Darren
    One of the funniest stores is OFFICE, the place that sells all the designer footwear, they have huge signs at the till points clearly stating that refunds are not given unless the item is faulty, even at christmas time!! I bought my missus a pair of boots priced at £180, basically its tough if she doesn't like them, £180 credit note for that store... but what I admired the most about OFFICE is that they actually ask you to read and confirm your happy with the returns policy they have, At which point I said NO and purchased the boots from Selfridges next door. I think I took her by surprise... she must have said at least a 1000 times that day!
  • Billy B.
    What u talkin abt
  • Billy B.
    Bs - FTW
  • JK
    My dad ordered me a lens for my Canon D-SLR about 5 weeks ago for Christmas. When I got home on 28th Dec, I spotted a bubble inside the glass and my dad shot an email to Amazon to get a replacement sorted at around 3pm. By 9am the next morning, a replacement lens was delivered and we were told to send the faulty one back within 4 weeks. Can't argue with that service really.

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