Skip to main content Accessibility Statement
Boy unhappy present

Got a Christmas present you don't want? Here's how to return it

Did you receive a present for Christmas that was a bit of a flop? Or something that you already have?

According to our annual Christmas spending survey, 37% of UK adults received presents last year they didn’t want or haven’t used – worth an average of £54.21.

But stashing unwanted gifts in the back of the wardrobe and forgetting about them means you could be missing out. Most retailers have return policies – and if the item was bought online, they are obligated by law to provide one. Plus, the quicker you act the more likely it is you will be covered by return policies, and it’s less likely that you will forget about it too.

Taking presents back to a shop

High street shops don’t have to accept non-faulty returns, with a survey by Gocompare finding that 45% of people who tried to return presents were unsuccessful.

But if the shop does have a returns policy, they must stick to it. Check out the retailer’s website or the back of receipts to see how long you have to return the item.

You might not be able to get your money back though. Return policies may offer different ways of refunding you, including cash, exchange of goods or credit notes to buy other goods from the same retailer.

Where possible, keep the receipt and all packaging when you buy something.

Online returns – why it’s worth the hassle of returns

In our survey on online shopping earlier this year, more than half of shoppers said they were less likely to return items bought online. Most said it was “too much hassle” to go to the effort of posting the item back. A total of 84% admitted they “don't completely understand” returns rules.

But you have more rights to return when you buy online, as you're not able to physically check out the product before you buy it.

The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 allow you to return (most) goods ordered at a distance – which means online, over the phone or via a catalogue.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. These include CDs, DVDs or software if you've broken the seal on the wrapping, perishable items, tailor-made or personalised items.

You have 14 days from receiving the item to return it. The retailer should refund you within 14 days of receiving the goods or getting proof you have returned them – whichever is sooner.

Remember this is the minimum online retailers should give you – and if their website offers a longer policy, they must stick to it.

It was a present, I don’t have the receipt!

If you wish to return a present, you'll need proof of purchase. The best way to do this is with a gift receipt, which doesn't show how much the item cost.

If you weren’t given one with your gift, you’ll need to ask for the receipt from the person who bought it for you.

This does have the potential to be awkward, but it’s better than having a present you won’t use.

Still too much hassle to return? According to a Mintel report in January 2014, 5.5% of people sold their unwanted gifts on eBay, so you could think about selling your gifts for a bit of extra dosh.

My present broke, what now?

Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, any items sold must be of satisfactory quality; fit for purpose and as described. If the item you’ve bought doesn’t meet these criteria, you have the right to return it for a refund or replacement.

You’re legally allowed to return items up to six years after purchase. However, it does get more difficult to prove an item isn't faulty simply due to general wear and tear.


What do you think?

We really want you to share your views, but please remember to be nice ☺
All fields are required. Check out our full commenting guidelines

By clicking on 'Post Comment', you're agreeing to our Commenting Policy

  • Hugo Weber / 12 January 2015

    This is helpful advice. Thanks!