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Know your rights when returning items this National Consumer Week.

National Consumer Week - know your rights

Been hitting the pre-Christmas sales? Perhaps you even bagged yourself a bargain on a new television or tablet. You might have even bought a present for someone.

You may have made that purchase safe in the knowledge you can take it back if the product doesn’t work. Yet Citizens Advice reports one in four people were initially turned away by retailers when trying to return faulty electrical items.

While the majority (61%) who were initially turned away did get some kind of compensation, it’s the kind of hassle we could all do without, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

So, what can you do to make your Christmas shopping experience plain sailing?

What to do if your product is faulty

If a product is faulty or not as described, the first thing you should do is contact the retailer who sold you the item, not the manufacturer.

If this is done within 30 days of purchase you are entitled to a full refund. After this period you can’t demand a refund, but are still entitled to a repair or replacement.

If you think you’re entitled to a refund, repair or replacement and the retailer says no, contact the Consumer Ombudsman.

Check who you’re buying from

It happens to all of us. You’ve been trawling through the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and you notice a great deal, so without really thinking you buy it.

This is where problems can really start, particularly if you’re buying online.

Be careful if you’re buying from a site you’re not used before. Help to protect yourself from fraudulent sites by doing some research on the company, does it have good reviews and a good returns policy for example.  

Your buying rights online vs offline

A huge amount of shopping is done online these days, but many don’t realise their consumer rights are different if they buy online than in a shop.

Shops will usually let you return items if you have the receipt or other proof of purchase, but each store has its own returns policy so you should check before you buy.

When you buy online, you have 14 days from when products arrive to cancel and a further 14 days to send most goods back. You’ll get a full refund, including the outgoing cost of postage but not the cost to return the item. These rules apply from buying within the EU.

However, this refund does not include the cost of sending the item back and some items, like food or perishable items, can be excluded. 

Buy on a card for added protection

Want added protection? Then make sure you pay with a card.

Use your credit card for purchases over £100 and you’ll be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means the credit card company is equally responsible as the seller if there is a problem, or the company goes bust, up to the value of £30,000.

If the purchase is under £100 you have some protection on a scheme called chargeback. This covers credit and debit cards as long as they are issued by Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Maestro.

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