If you are thinking of returning a gift or sending any of your purchases back, it is useful to know about your consumer rights as a shopper or recipient. Find our guide below:

Returns and legal obligations

It may come as a surprise that shops are actually under no legal obligation to accept returns unless an item is faulty, not as described or is unfit for purpose. If a gift is the wrong colour or the recipient simply doesn’t like it, you have no automatic right to return it. However, most retailers will offer what is known as a Goodwill Returns policy.

Goodwill Returns policy

Retailers will offer an exchange, refund or credit note for most returns. If a gift is faulty, you have the right to take it back and request a full refund so long as you do so within a reasonable time period. Most retailers’ Goodwill Returns policy will offer a term of 28 days. Fortunately, the majority of retailers will extend their returns policy over the Christmas period.

Gifts bought online

If your gift was bought online, over the phone, or by mail order, the Consumer Contracts Regulations provide you with additional rights. You are entitled to a full refund within 14 days of the trader receiving the return, or of you providing evidence of having returned the goods. For example, this could be proof of postage receipt from the post office.

The seller can make a deduction if the value of the gift has been reduced as a result of you handling the goods more than necessary, for instance, wear and tear. The extent to which you’re allowed to handle the gift is the same as if you were looking it over in a shop.

What you need to return a gift

Depending on a retailer’s returns policy, you may be offered an exchange or a credit note, while others may give you a refund. All shops usually require a few key things:

  • A receipt – always keep your receipt and take it with you when asking for a return. If you have bought a gift for somebody else, include the gift receipt so they can change it if they need to.
  • The card you paid with – if you paid for a gift with a credit or debit card, take it with you when you return the item. This is especially important if you want a refund, as it will usually be credited to the card you paid with.
  • Any original packaging – you will need to bring the gift’s original packaging with you.

Gifts you can’t return

There are some items that you usually cannot return:

  • DVDs, music and computer software – many retailers will refuse returns if the seal or packaging has been broken.
  • Perishable items – you are not usually able to return an item if it is perishable. This might include food or flowers.
  • Made to order or bespoke items – if a gift has been made to order or personalised it is quite unlikely that you’ll be able to return it.

If you need advice this Christmas or encounter a problem, call our solicitors in Brighton on 01273 696 962 or our London office on: 0203 358 0058. You can also email us at info@arlingsworth.com.