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Your Rights When Returning Unwanted Christmas Presents

December 30, 2017, 9:00 AM
  • Last year £355 million of unwanted presents were returned
  • 28% have had problems returning gifts
  • May have to return by 4th January
  • Some stores have hidden charges
If you’ve unwrapped something you don’t want, read our guide to returning presents. Image: Gettty

Last year, millions of unwanted Christmas presents were returned to shops, and the figure is predicted to grow this year as people spend more than ever on Christmas presents.

Although it can be tricky to return presents, the good news is that you can still get your money back even if you don’t have a receipt, the product has been opened, and it was bought in a sale.

The bad news is that for some retailers, you only have until 4th January to return an unloved present.

James Walker, founder of complaints resolution service Resolver, said, “Some retailers have special policies for festive gifts that extend returns until well past Christmas.

“In fact, if you buy from John Lewis you’ll get three months to take back anything and get a refund, whatever the reason for returning it is.

“There are plenty of retailers out there with much more tricky returns policies.

“Some of these might be fine for ordinary purchases, but if you’re buying before Christmas, you need to make sure you pick the right time.”

What to check before returning a gift

The first thing to check for it how long you have to take the gift back, this will vary between individual retailers, so check their online policy as early as possible so you don’t miss the cut off point.

You need to keep the packaging if possible, or keep the labels in clothing, otherwise it can be really difficult to return a product, eg opened DVDs, CDs , and games.

One thing consumers should know is that retailers are under no legal obligation to give you a refund for an unwanted gift- unless it’s faulty, not as described, or doesn’t work as it should.

Retailers also aren’t legally obliged to accept items that are being returned by someone other than the person who bought them.

However, in practice, many high-street stores have a returns policy for Christmas which allows you to exchange unwanted items, or receive a refund, credit note, or gift voucher.

This exclude perishable items, such as food or flowers, and specially commissioned or personalised gifts.

James also warned, “Another thing to watch out for are hidden returns charges.

“Some shops charge a restocking fee, while some online retailers will make you pay for the cost of postage when you return.”

General Rules for Returning Gifts:

  • If you don’t have the receipt- you will need to find another proof or purchase, eg an electronic statement if bought by cars
  • If it is opened- this will be down to the reatiler. Some prodcuts may have restrictions on returns, but the store should display its’ policy clearly so you’ll be aware of this
  • If it was bought in the sales- if you can, agree with a member of staff the possibility of returning a sale itme, but shops are under no obligation to accept returns on products from a sale.
  • Is it under warranty?- for the first six months, the onus is on the retailer to prove that faulty prodcut is not their fault, after this the customer must prove that the fault was not caused by them, or down to wear and tear
  • Benefits of buying online- if you have bought something online, you have 14 days to change your mind, including a full refund. This could even include a refund on postage. This doesn’t apply to in store purchases
  • Deliveries should arrive in 30 days- Amazon were caught out before Christmas not delivering on time. If this has happened to you, you can get a refund
  • What if it’s faulty?- You have 30 days to take back a faulty order, which will get you a full cash refund, regardless of it was bought in stores or online. This is a legal right that shops must abide by. You’ll just need proof of purchase, which could be a bank statement if you can’t find the receipt.
emmarudmanover a year ago

How can I return an opened iwatch to Argos? Still within 14 days and they’ve said as it’s been taken out the wrapper they won’t accep, please advise

Lusisover a year ago

You cannot return it to argos. As it’s been unsealed and is something electronic that stores data it’s a no go. This is the same for tablets, phones, fitbits etc.

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