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Giving and receiving presents at Christmas is all part of the fun, but sometimes it goes wrong.

Unwanted gift? Do you know your rights to return?

Giving and receiving presents at Christmas is all part of the fun, but sometimes it goes wrong.

Perhaps you bought a gift for someone that didn’t fit or was broken, or (worst of all) maybe you received something you just didn’t want.  If that happens, then you’ll want to get your money back or exchange it for something else.

So, what are your rights when returning Christmas presents?

What am I entitled to?

Anything you buy must meet three standards under the Consumer Rights Act:

  1. Satisfactory quality – should not be faulty or damaged, or at least of satisfactory quality. For example, second hand goods are not held to the same standards as brand new.
  2. Fit for purpose – be able to use it for the purpose they were supplied for.
  3. As described – must match the description, model or sample shown at time of purchase.

Gift for someone else

As long as you have the receipt, returning or replacing a gift you bought for someone else which fails to meet the three standards, is quite simple.

If you want a full refund, then you need to return the gift within 30 days. After 30 days, you’re only entitled to a repair or replacement, not a refund.

If the present develops a fault in the first six months, you can still get a repair or replacement and, if this fails a full refund or price reduction.

Gift from someone else

Things get more complicated if you want to return a gift bought for you by someone else, because you need proof of purchase, which you probably won’t have.

If the item is faulty then you can just ask the person who gave it to you for the receipt, assuming they kept it.

But if it is something you don’t like, or just don’t want then you might be too embarrassed to ask. In this case you are going to struggle to be able to send it back. 

You might be in luck however, as some stores operate a goodwill returns policy at Christmas.

Buying online and delivery

Rather than hitting the high street for our Christmas shopping, many will be buying presents online. This means you are also covered under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

In the first 14 days, you have the right to cancel your purchase at any time. For example, if you find the same item cheaper elsewhere. After this, you are covered under the standard Consumer Rights Act if the item fails to meet the three standards.

The more difficult area is delivery. If you request delivery before Christmas and the gift fails to show up, then you are entitled to cancel the order for a full refund. However, you will need to have agreed the delivery date with the retailor when buying.

Personalised gifts

Unless the item is damaged or faulty, you will probably be unable to return personalised gifts.

The same is true for perishable items (like flowers) and unwrapped CDs, DVDs and computer software.

Rights for sales shopping

Many of us will have been hitting the pre-Christmas sales or looking forward to some retail therapy in January. While you do still have rights when shopping in the sales, there are some differences.

If something you buy in the sales turns out to be faulty or damaged, you are entitled to a full refund of what you paid for it, not the usual retail price.

If you decide you just don’t like it, shops are under no legal obligation to refund you.

Getting extra protection

Want that little bit of extra protection when buying Christmas presents?

Then use your credit card. This means you’re covered under Section 75, which gives you added protection on purchases between £100 and £30,000.

You might also be covered by a voluntary scheme called chargeback if you use your debit card.

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