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Returning unwanted gifts and purchases – what are the rules?

man holding slippers gift he doesnt want

Returning unwanted and purchases you make on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, or at Boxing Day Sales? Do you know the rules?

Most shopping events are designed to whip us all into a frenzy, with Christmas the exception of course. During shopping events or sales, many of us purchase goods at a substantial discount, but they might not be quite what we hoped for. Retailers will typically offer a return on goods that are unopened, unused or faulty. But what happens when these items aren’t faulty and we simply experience ‘buyer’s remorse’?

In this article, we look at your rights as a consumer when you purchase online or in-store.

I bought something on Black Friday, can I return it?

Consumers have the right to return items if goods are faulty or they are not as described. It is important to note that the returns policies of retailers can only add to, but cannot restrict, these rights. As such, a seller does not have to refund you if you simply changed your mind, unless you made your purchase without seeing the item.

Most reputable retailers, however, will refund you as long as you have proof of purchase and the item is still in unused and original condition. You should always make sure you are aware of their returns policy.

My item is faulty, does the seller have to give me a refund?

In most cases, if the item you purchased is faulty then the seller must offer you a refund. They may also offer to repair or replace the item, but you do not have to accept this. However, the seller can refuse to refund, replace, or repair your item where:

  • They have evidence that you knew the item was faulty when you purchased it
  • You have damaged the item by trying to repair it yourself

What if I purchased the wrong item, or the item is not suitable?

It is not widely known, but unless the retailer’s returns policy specifies that you can return an item, there is no obligation for them to accept such a return. For example, if you purchased an item of clothing without trying it on, the seller is not obliged to accept the return. There are exceptions to this, including when you place an order online or over the phone – known as distance selling.

Purchasing items online or over the phone

There are additional protections for consumers if they buy items online or over the phone. Sellers must offer you a refund if you inform them within 14 days of receiving the items that you wish to return – you do not have to provide them with a reason. After you have informed the seller, you must return the item within 14 days. The seller then has 14 days to refund you. Exercise caution with some online selling platforms such as eBay, as the returns policies will vary from seller to seller or will depend on what product you purchase.

Unwanted Christmas gifts

This is the most tricky for consumers, many of whom start to purchase Christmas gifts from as early as the beginning of October up until Christmas. Many retailers recognise this and now extend their Christmas returns policy to cover this period. It’s always wise to check the returns policy and any costs you may incur, particularly when buying online and from smaller businesses.

If you would like any more information relating to this article then please feel free to contact me: Telephone – 020 8221 8062, via email: or visit my profile.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

man holding slippers gift he doesnt want
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