Unwanted and Damaged Christmas Presents

Unwanted and Damaged Christmas Presents post image

It’s always nice to hear those five little words after giving your loved ones their presents this Christmas… Did you keep the receipt? As thousands of us flock back to the shops with unwanted, inappropriate or faulty gifts, What Consumer gives you the lowdown on your consumer rights.

Do shops have to give me my money back?

When you buy something you enter into a legally binding contract of sale with the shop or supplier. Therefore shops are under no legal obligation to give you a refund, or take anything back simply because you have changed your mind. For this reason shops can impose their own policies on time limits for returns. These days most shops will offer you a refund and nearly all will allow you to make an exchange, but whatever their policy, they must have it clearly displayed at the point of sale. Of course this is not the case where goods are faulty, which is why you’ll always see ‘this does not affect your statutory rights’ on any policy notice.

Did you keep the receipt?

Whatever the reason for the return, you must prove that a contract of sale existed between you and the shop, which includes when you bought it and the price paid. This However, it doesn’t have to be a till receipt, and a bank or credit card statement will do just as well. If you have nothing, shops are quite within their rights to only give you back the price the item is currently selling at, which may be a good deal lower than the price you paid initially.

Cooling off periods.

These only apply to certain products and goods bought under a distance selling contract (online and mail order) or from a doorstep seller. Under the regs you can send the goods back and get a full refund no questions asked – even if you’ve taken the item out of the box or thrown the packaging away. You’ll need to get your skate on though, because you’ve only got 7 days. For more on this, see our guide to Cooling Off and Cancellations.

What are my statutory rights?

That the item is as described, that it is of satisfactory quality, safe and durable, and that it is fit for the purposes specified. If any of these are not the case, this is a breach of your statutory rights and it is the retailer’s responsibility to take action

What action must the retailer take?

Firstly, don’t be fobbed off by shops who tell you it’s the manufacturer’s responsibility, your contract of sale is with whoever sold it to you. Secondly, don’t be misled into thinking you only have the duration of the warranty period to return faulty items. You have consumer rights under the Sale of Goods Act which implies that goods should work satisfactorily for a reasonable length of time. If they do not, you cannot simply march into a shop and demand your money back. You must allow the seller the opportunity to repair or replace the goods, although it should be without any additional expense or significant inconvenience to you, and within reasonable time. If a repair or a replacement cannot be effected, you can then request a refund or a discount. For more on problems getting problems rectified, see our section on Returning Damaged or Faulty Goods.

Is the guarantee worth the paper it’s written on?

For certain products, manufacturers and retailers will often issue their own guarantees or warranties (basically the same thing!). They are not compulsory and exist to enhance consumer confidence, as well as giving the manufacturer the opportunity to collect valuable marketing information about you! Warranties are a commitment to repair or replace defective parts within a specified time frame (usually 12 months) and, thanks to recent European regs, they are now legally binding contractual obligations between you and the manufacturer, or retailer for the time frame indicated. The important point about warranties is that they should never seek to replace your rights under the Sale of Goods Act, and even after they have run out, you will still be protected by these statutory rights. Beware also small print requiring the consumer to bear the cost of any shipping, labour etc as this runs contrary to Sale of Goods. For information, see our guide to extended warranties

Rights when buying sale items

If an item is reduced in price due to a sale, your rights are the same as if it were a full priced item. If you are buying seconds, you are still entitled to a product which is undamaged and fully useable. If you knowingly buy a damaged product, the specific defect must be pointed out to you before you buy, and although you cannot then return the item on the basis of that defect, it does not mean you cannot return the item if you discover something else wrong with it – even if they have reduced the price. Don’t let the sales assistant tell you otherwise!

Items bought from online auction sites

When buying from sites such as e-bay and Amazon’s ‘Sell Your Stuff’ the important point to remember is that you are not buying from the sites themselves, but from individuals who have put their possessions or products up for sale on those sites, and this has important implications for your consumer rights. Firstly, if you are buying from a private seller (as opposed to a commercial entity), you will not benefit from a cooling off period under the distance selling regs. Neither does the statutory right to quality apply, and you will have no legal redress if the item is unsatisfactory. For more on this, see our guide to buying from online auction sites

Leave a Comment

21 comments… add one
  • dmass 6 January, 10:36 pm

    just a quick one that i am in dispute with wondered if you could help me out i had some shoes bought for xmas and they were the wrong size. when i returned them to the store to get another size they didnt have any in my size or in any of the shoes of the same brand they also didnt have any in my size in other branches of the store i needed to get more shoes but they didnt have any in my size and werent likely to get any more in the ones i wanted yet they would only issue me a gift voucher and not a refund so i had no chance of getting the shoes from anywhere else is this right or are they obliged to give me a refund

    • Tony 11 January, 2:59 pm

      They are not obliged to give you a refund, your statutory rights do not allow you top return goods because you have changed your mind or because the item is the wrong size. Most shops will let you do this for a limited period of time, but this is in addition to your rights as a consumer.

  • Shirley Peacock 5 March, 4:25 pm

    I bought my husband a pair of trousers at christmas that were too long I have only just taken them back March but they would only give me the value of them now in the sales, not the price I paid for them They still had all the tags on them etc is the illegal

    • joe 23 June, 11:46 am

      no its perfectly legal

      why not just take them to the tailors to be shortened

  • Danny 22 January, 4:19 pm

    Hi, I my son was bought a play gym for christmas which has since become faulty I returned it to the shop and was told I could only have a gift voucher as way of a refund as the card which payed for it originally was not present, is this correct ??

  • Jemma 28 December, 11:54 am

    am i allowed to take back products bought before christmas, and buy the same item again for sale price? I have my reciept and am within my 30 days limit.

  • DFord 18 January, 11:03 pm

    I have just received my 2nd Hugo Boss ipad case which is again faulty. Selfridges have told me I can’t have a refund even though I have lost all faith in the product. I don’t mind vouchers or a refund for the cost of the product but they are refusing and are adamant they will just keep sending me a replacement……please advise

  • derek 28 July, 11:22 am

    bought a faulty tv from pc world durham took it back just because fault didn’t appear in shop they refused to exchange or refund me tv after several emails and phone calls it took a month to get a exchange number , still got messed about at the shop told me they had a one in stock when I waited in shop for tv they told me they was a mix up and I had to wait till the following day for the delivery . Why to shops like pc world have written on they receipts unsuitable items must be unopened and in original packaging please explain to me how you can tell a item is suitable without opening the box.

  • Colin Rixen 30 November, 6:25 pm

    It says above that if you buy a good in a sale and wish to return it or get a refund that they will honour this, but if the good is now part of a sale will you receive the original amount back or will you only receive the value of it in the sale. Does this depend the shops return policy and cooling off period?

  • S Ackroyd 12 January, 12:28 pm

    my husband had a rugby shirt from sports direct ,given as a Xmas present ,we have the receipt unfortunately it is to tight and they don’t have any larger size are we entitled to cash refund .The shop say we have to have exchange or credit note

    • Dave hanlon 18 December, 7:20 pm

      Good lu k with sports direct, they always refuse a refund and break the trading laws.time theybwere closed down until they work within the law
      Good luck with that,i doubt if you will get anywhere without trading standards help

  • paula 20 January, 8:04 pm

    I bought a laptop for xmas nd had nothing but problems I took it back 2 pcworld 2day(tuesday) and they said my 21days were up. I dont know what to do now as I wanted 2 change it for a better model can any1 help me with this .

  • paula 20 January, 8:28 pm

    Bought laptop for my son xmastime and its not workin how long is their warranty its frm pcworld . Please help

  • tara cooper 16 April, 7:54 pm

    I brought my son the e100 scooter in january as a present as was having my second baby i promised him a scooter I feel bad as he hat to have a pink one as others were out stock at time but it just seems to not be holding charge as he only gets 5-10 mins play then back on charge I have mislayed my reciept how would I go about exchange he also would prefer boy colour if were in stock

    • Leslie 16 January, 9:05 pm

      They will exchange or repair it if it’s faulty and should be working better than it is
      As for colour that was completely your choice so they have no obligation to change it to a ‘boys’ colour and in the 21st century I’m shocked you think boys and girls need different coloured items- surly a scooter is a scooter and you actively chose to buy a pink one! And everyone knows only girls like pink… really?!?
      Head out of stone ages and go get an exchange if it’s faulty!!!

  • Fichy 10 September, 9:48 pm

    I bought a rug from next nearly 3 months ago , but now I’m ca see that since I had it my son is suffering from allergies . Can I return it or not . Thanks

  • Ritchie weir 7 January, 12:10 pm

    I bought a Bissel carpet cleaner from ideal world on the 30th of October for my wife for Christmas. My wife did not open it to use it till the 7th of January. When she opened it, one of the screws did not tighten up, there was also a black scrape/mark on the handle & the user manual was ripped. I phoned ideal world and was told I had to phone Bissel for a refund as the money back guarantee had expired through them. I then phoned Bissel and was told that I had to phone ideal world for a refund as it was them who had my money. I was basically fobbed off from both company’s. Can anyone help ?

  • David Waters 5 April, 1:31 pm

    Hi bought a pair of shoes back in November for a Christmas present only to find at Christmas time that the wrong size was sent, So since them been contacting the seller who said to send the shoes back for a refund this was done then they were sent back again so phoned the seller who once again said to sent the shoes back and a refund would be sent so once again the shoes were sent back but once again they were went back to us, So we phoned the seller again only to be told that they were not sent back in the box they were sent in also the shoes had been worn, I will admit we don’t have the box but the shoes have not been worn because they don’t fit anyone We did ask for a larger pair of shoes but this is the only size they had and the cost of the shoes were £31.99 so not that cheap, I know it’s been about six months but we have been trying to get a refund since January, So don’t know if there is anything you can help with Thank You.
    Kind Regards.
    Mr D Waters.

  • jga 1940 22 April, 8:34 pm

    If you by goods online, or by phone then you are covered by the Distance Selling Regulations which were amended and now are known as The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013

    This legislation apply to goods you can send back within 14 days without giving a reason, but puts you in the same position as those who have viewed the goods for example in a shop or warehouse. if you see the goods before you pay for them, then legally you will only be entitled to repair, replacement or your money back if the goods do not fit what is stated in the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended). Goods bought must be of ‘satisfactory quality’ & ‘fit for purpose’ There is more on the Sale of Goods Act 1979 in other areas of the web site

  • Teresa 26 July, 9:33 pm

    I purchased a pair of Russell and Bromley loafers in January, iv worn them on 7 occasions to find the last time i wore them the leathers come off on the heel ;-( can i still return them after so long? I paid £180.00 for them

    Thanks in advance

  • alan evenden 20 April, 2:28 pm

    trying to return not fit for purpose goods to seller but not returning phone calls or emails but asking for payment?