The Eric Whitehead Partnership

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Christmas Shopping Rights

Last Christmas, it was estimated that 80% of people received an unwanted present. Incredibly, the value of these unwanted gifts was estimated to be almost £80 billion!

During these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever that people are aware of their rights when it comes to buying presents generally and, specifically, to returning unwanted presents.

Contrary to popular belief, shops do not have to offer a refund for unwanted gifts unless they are damaged or faulty. However, at Christmas time, many shops are more willing to “bend the rules”. Only the person who purchased the item has the statutory right to return it, although this can be resolved if, at the point of purchase, the buyer lets the shop know that the item is a gift for someone else. In those circumstances, the shop may allow that person to return the item. If that is the case, the purchaser should ask the shop to write the name of the recipient of the gift on the receipt.

If a refund is sought, it is always helpful to have the receipt to hand. It is therefore worthwhile keeping receipts for presents bought just in case they are unwanted. Even with a receipt, however, most shops will usually only give a refund within 28 days of purchase.

If a gift was purchased using a debit or credit card, any refund will normally be credited back to the account used. It may therefore be easier to ask the shop for an exchange.

If a gift has been purchased online, by mail order or by telephone, the purchaser will have extra rights. All items sold in this manner have a “cooling-off” period of seven working days. This means that, even if the item is not faulty, a purchaser can return the item, in the same condition and during the seven day period, and receive a full refund. Online retailers are compelled by law to display their returns policy on their websites. These rules do not apply to certain items, for example, perishable items such as flowers or food and DVDs and CDs.

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