We all get presents we don’t want, don’t need or don’t like and even though it might feel a little awkward returning something bought especially for you it is better than keeping it lying around the house.
But taking gifts back to the shop is a little trickier than it sounds and there is some information you need to know before heading to the store or online.
According to consumer website Which? high street shops don’t have to let you return an item simply because you don’t like it but if they have a returns policy they must stick to it.
Here’s everything you need to know.
It might come as a surprise to know that high street stores aren’t obliged to accept returns unless an item is faulty, unfit for purpose or isn’t as it is described.
But the good news is most retailers have a ‘goodwill’ returns policy which means they will offer an exchange, refund or credit notes – this is particularly handy when it comes to those unwanted presents you’ve got lying around.
Returning a gift in store
If you were given the item as a gift and want to return it you’ll need a receipt as proof of purchase in order to get a replacement or refund.
Generally when someone has bought you a gift the last thing they think to do is give you the receipt. However, it is handy if you’ve been given a gift receipt. If you were not given one you’ll need to ask for the receipt, however, awkward that might be.
Make sure you keep all the tags on – this way if you can’t get a receipt you can still go to the store and inquire about one. Many stores offer an exchange or credit note so it is always worth asking.
If the gift was bought online, over the phone, or by post (such as ordering from a catalogue) you may need to ask the person who bought it to make the return.
For example, you need to know the date the gift was delivered to the person who gave it to you.
According to the Consumer Rights Regulations – a guideline to your rights when shopping online – you should get a refund within 14 days of either the trader getting the goods back, or you providing evidence of having returned the goods – for example, a proof of postage receipt from the post office.
However, if it has been bought online it has to be the person who made the purchase that makes the return as card details will be needed to authorise the return.
Items you might not be able to return
There are some returns exceptions worth knowing about, including:
- DVDs, music and computer software – many retailers refuse returns if the seal or packaging has been broken.
- Perishable items – you won’t usually be able to return an item if it’s perishable. This includes food and flowers.
- Made to order – if an item has been made to order or personalised it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to return it.
According to Which? the retailer “is responsible for providing goods that are of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose to the person buying those goods.” But you only have 30 days to act for a refund if the item is faulty.
However, you may need the person who bought the gift to return it for you as the contract is between the buyer and the retailer.
If the time has run out for a refund, you can ask for a replacement. Which? recommends making contact with the retailer as soon as possible in the case of faulty or damaged items.