Returning goods after the festive period – What are the rules?
We all appreciate receiving Christmas gifts, but sometimes they need to be returned. This could be for various reasons, from clothes that don’t fit, or maybe you already own them. It might even be faulty or simply isn’t something you want or need.
This article looks into the rules surrounding returning goods and what rights you have to return or exchange an item.
Goods bought in store
When it comes to returning goods that were bought in-store, legally, there is no protection for you or the buyer to be able to receive the money back or an exchange unless the goods are faulty. But, most shops have a more lenient customer-focused approach to this issue, often offering a refund, credit note or an exchange.
While stores have no legal obligation to return the goods unless they are faulty, it is always worth asking. Return and exchange policies are specific to the company, so you should always check your options based on the particular policy.
Goods bought online
If a gift is purchased online, there are more legal obligations for the seller and protections for the buyer. As a recipient of a gift, this doesn’t necessarily help you, but if you speak with the person who gave you the gift, and it was delivered to them less than 14 days ago, then a return can be made.
Christmas returns policies
As discussed, many shops have their own policy on returns, with around 14 to 30 days being the norm for many high street retailers, such as H&M 28 day return policy or M&S and their 35-day return policy. As with all return policies, this is individual to each business so you should always check.
On top of the longer 30-day return options that are seen all year long, often around Christmas, many online retailers have extended return policies. For M&S, any purchases made from October 31st until Christmas Eve can be returned up until January 31st rather than their typical 35-day window. H&M extends their period into the New Year, with purchases made between the 14th of October to 6th of January, having a cut-off date of the 31st of January. ASOS, Amazon, Argos, Boots, John Lewis and several other retailers also all have an adapted holiday returns policy, giving you typically until the end of January to make your return.
Finding a return policy
Typically, return policies can be found on a company’s website. If you can’t spot a page aimed at return policies, check the FAQs or their customer support page. Many stores will require a receipt or another proof of purchase, making returns difficult for gift recipients if they do not receive the gift receipt.
Often as a goodwill gesture, the person returning the goods will receive an offer of an exchange or a credit note, such as a gift card. Occasionally, you may also be offered a refund, but this is unlikely, especially if you do not have the receipt.
If the gift you received is faulty, you are more likely to receive a refund. The law offers protection for 30 days from purchase; goods that are found to be faulty can be refunded. When 30 days pass, a replacement or repair should be available. Some stores will extend the refund policy beyond these 30 days, but this is not required by law. If you have received the product as a gift and you have the gift receipt, any extended right to a refund will usually transfer to you.
So can I return unwanted presents?
There is no harm in trying to return a gift if you have a receipt or another form of proof of purchase. If you haven’t received this and still want to return the gift, you will likely need to speak with the person who bought it to get it before making the return.
It is important to remember that a business has no legal obligation to accept a gift back. There is also no obligation to refund the money, so more often than not, it will be an exchange or credit note you receive.
Ultimately, it really depends on the store and the business. The policy can differ from store to store, so you should always check. When possible, you should always get the gift receipt and keep a hold of them too!