Christmas Presents: Can I get a refund on unwanted gifts?

When it comes to Christmas presents, it’s the season of goodwill, so what happens if you’ve been given a gift you won’t use or like?

A jumper that’s too big? Too small? Or not your colour? Or maybe you’ve been given duplicate presents, like two fabulous coffee makers, but only need one?

When it comes to getting a refund or exchange on unwanted Christmas gifts, you can be at the mercy of the retailer.

Returns rights on the high street

Bricks and mortar stores don’t legally have to offer refunds or exchanges on unwanted items, although many do have very generous returns policies.

These are typically around 30 days, although can be far longer over Christmas, often well into the New Year.

However whether you can get a refund, exchange or gift card depends on the store’s own returns rules. Some may insist on the original receipt, or a gift receipt, while others may just be happy to see the item’s unused with the store branding on the label, wrapping or box.

Watch out with refunds. Even if stores offer refunds on unwanted goods, in most cases, they’ll only process them back on the original payment card. So unless the buyer paid cash, or comes with you to return items, you may have to accept an exchange or gift card.

Gift receipts

These are a valuable tool, as they ‘transfer’ the buyer’s rights to the person they give the gift to. Plus it means any refund or exchange is given at the original price paid, not the current selling price, which may now be discounted by 70% in the sale.

If items are faulty, and you produce a gift receipt, you should get a refund or replacement, rather than the buyer having to return the item.

Returns rights online

When buying online, you get a whole heap more rights than buying on the high street, and can get a full refund on unused items, simply because you change your mind.

Great if you’re the one buying, but with presents bought online, it’s the original ‘buyer’ who gets these rights. And even if you pluck up the courage to ask them to return your present, chances are post Christmas, they may be beyond any time limits set out under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

This gives the buyer 14 days after receiving items to tell the seller they’re returning the item, and another 14 days to send it back. So if friends and family are early shoppers and snapped up your pressy way back in October, any returns limit may have long since gone.

That said, once again, always worth eamailing the retailer, to ask if you can get a swap or exchange if the item’s clearly branded.

Posted in