Christmas presents

Taking unwanted gifts back to the shop

At this time of the year, people often get gifts that they don’t really want. If this happens to you, what are your rights if you want to return the gift to the shop where it was bought?

The shop may agree to give you a refund, but there is nothing in law which says they have to.

However, many of the large high-street retailers do have ‘returns policies’ which give you more than just your basic legal rights. A shop which has a returns policy may offer you a refund, an exchange, a credit note or gift voucher if you have received a gift that you don’t like. There may be a time limit within which you have to take the item back to the shop. If a shop has a returns policy, they must keep to it. Look for notices up in the shop telling you about the policy, or ask sales staff if the shop has one.

Even if a shop doesn’t have a returns policy, they may still offer to take the gift back as a goodwill gesture, particularly after Christmas. This is less likely to be the case with smaller shops which can’t afford to have returns policies or provide goodwill gestures.

If you want to return a gift, you should make sure that it’s in perfect condition and hasn’t been used. You should be able to produce a receipt, although some retailers will exchange items without one. If you don’t have a receipt, you could try using a bank or credit card statement from the person who bought the present instead. If the gift was bought using a credit or debit card, any refund will normally have to go back on the same card, so if you want to exchange your present for cash, you’ll probably have to get the person who bought it for you to arrange a refund.

What if there is something wrong with the gift?

Don’t forget that you have rights if there is something wrong with the gift, and the shop must do something about it. You may have to ask the person who bought it to make a complaint on your behalf. However, you can make a complaint yourself, as long as when the person bought it, they mentioned to the retailer that it was going to be given to you as a gift. It would be helpful to have something in writing which shows that the shop was aware of this at the time of sale.
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