Things to remember when sale shopping...
We all know the January sales start in December these days- with many starting even before Christmas, but with nothing else to look forward to until March, sale shopping might be a way of cheering up a gloomy January. However, there are a few things to remember when sale shopping, or even shopping in general, which may go some way to improving your 2016 retail experience.
First of all, some retailers will tell you that there is no refund on sale items, and you might think they can’t do this. Well, they probably can.The point is that your statutory rights in respect of buying goods cannot be affected by retailer policies (which is often stated on the back of store receipts), but your statutory rights only cover when items are damaged or faulty or otherwise not fit for purpose, they have no effect if you simply change your mind, or even if they don’t fit (unless the sizing is faulty).
Similarly, if sale items were reduced because of a fault that was either pointed out to you, or that you could have been reasonably expected to notice before you bought it (like a large stain on the front), then the store could reasonably argue that you were aware at the time of purchase and refuse a refund.
Of course, in practice, many stores will offer a 14-28 day period in which you can return the goods for a refund even if you have just changed your mind, but this is discretionary and you cannot make them do so. Many also offer extended refund windows over the Christmas period, possibly extending up to the end of January in some cases. If a shop choose not to offer refunds on (non-faulty) sale goods, however, that is up to each individual retailer.
In this case, and if you are a particularly fickle shopper, you might like to think about shopping online instead. This is because there are further statutory rights attached to distance selling which allow for a 14 day cooling-off period during which you can get a full refund even if you just change your mind.
Finally, if you are looking at buying bigger ticket items in the sales, think about buying in credit card to take advantage of the section 75 protection against faulty/not fit for purpose goods that allows you to apply for a refund from the credit card company instead of the retailer and applies to goods or services bought online, in person or over the phone.
Under "section 75" of the Consumer Credit Act, the credit provider is equally liable with the provider of goods or services where there is a breach of contract or misrepresentation.
However, this should be used as a back up plan only, as although commonly credit card companies don’t claw back any money from the retailer, being more effort for them than it's worth, if they do try and charge the retailer, and the retailer disputes it, your credit card refund could be clawed back or held pending a dispute. Note however that card providers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, so they must respond to complaints in accordance with their policy.
Other things to remember include myth-busting the idea that retailers have to sell you something at a marked price even if it’s wrong. They don’t, but that’s not to say it isn’t worth a try, although don’t get put out if it doesn’t work. Also if you have lost your receipt it’s not the end of the world- some stores’ own policy will allow an exchange without a receipt or evidence of purchase from other sources, such as bank statements. This also applies if seeking redress for faulty items- consumer law does not require a receipt, merely proof of purchase