Your Guide to Returning Unwanted Christmas Presents

It is at this time of year that the tills are full of people trying to return unwanted gifts and if you are one of them, you will want to know your rights before you step into the store or go online. Heres your guide to returning unwanted gifts, for Christmas, or otherwise. Bookmark this page so you can return to it time and again, it may be needed more than you think!

Returning an Unwanted Gift Instore

Unfortunately, if you have an unwanted gift you are not entitled to a refund as stores are under no legal obligation to give you your money back. However, many shops have their own returns policy and will tell you what it is when the item is bought so either ask the buyer, or the shop when you go back there. It could be that you are allowed a refund, exchange or credit note but you will have to show them the receipt.

The item will also have to be returned within the stores time period so do not miss out by taking it back outside of the permitted time. Most stores however are offering an extended time after Christmas. Many high street stores and supermarkets offer gift receipts which do not show the amount paid so if your recipient really does not like the present, they can exchange it for something they do like. If you do not have a receipt the store does not have to offer you anything.

Returning an Unwanted Gift Online

If you purchased a gift online and it came and you changed your mind, you actually have more rights than if you went into the store and bought it. This is because you are protected by the Distance Selling Regulations. These allow you a ‘cooling off’ period of seven days in which you can change your mind and get a full refund even if there is nothing wrong with the item. This seven-day period begins from the day after the gift was received.

Likewise, if you receive a present that was bought online and you do not like it, you can still send it back but will need to show the proof of purchase and to know the date when the gift was received. It may be possible to take the item back to a store but again, you’ll need proof of purchase, normally in the form of the despatch note that came with the purchase.

I have received a gift that does not work.

You are protected by the Sale of Goods Act, which states that if you buy an item that is faulty, not as described or unfit for purpose, you have the right to a refund. Most stores will automatically refund or replace, but if the item was a gift bought for you, you cannot claim these rights for yourself. You would have to ask the person who bought it to take it back for a refund. They will need proof of purchase but this need not be a receipt. If you have a credit card bill or bank statement where the purchase is clearly visible, then this should be acceptable. And make sure that you return the faulty item as soon as you can.

The regulations state that in order for you to be eligible for a refund the item has to be returned in a ‘reasonable amount of time’. However, there is no definition of what is considered a ‘reasonable’ length of time and this will depend individually on the item and the store in question. After this time you won’t be entitled to a refund but you can demand a repair or replacement.

What items are not returnable?

A few items are non refundable, such as earrings, make-up and toiletries due to hygiene reasons and this will usually be specified somewhere on the product or its packaging. Anything basically where you have to open packaging like DVDs, CDs, computer games and software also can’t be returned and personalised gifts or clothes made to measure will not be accepted either.

January Sales items, where do I stand?

Luckily, items bought on impulse in the January sales have the same returnable rights as items paid for a full price. Although the store has no legal obligation to refund or exchange, if you look at their refund policy before you buy, you will know beforehand whether you can take an item back or not. If they have a returns policy, you will usually be offered an exchange or credit note. Make sure you always read the returns policy before buying, as many shop operate slightly different policies during sales periods.

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