With Christmas coming up fast, and Black Friday now behind us, you should be aware of your rights when it comes to your purchases over the festive season! Here are some common consumer rights that you should know about!
High street purchases
Consumers do not have an automatic right to return non-faulty gifts. High street shops do not have to accept a return unless the item is not of satisfactory quality, not as described or unfit for purpose (Section 9-11 Consumer Rights Act 2015).
Those three caveats are the only ways that consumers can legally demand a return.
However, most stores do operate a returns policy. The issue for consumers is that the returns policies are likely different at each store.
The best course of action is to query the returns policy prior to purchase.
Where you have bought an item, the best situation for a return would be:
To keep your receipt and take it with you
To have the card you paid with so the money can be credited back to your account
To retain all of the original packaging
However, where you have been given a gift, you will most likely need proof of purchase in order to return. This is simple if the person giving you the gift has also given you the corresponding gift receipt as this will be the proof of purchase which shows the item that has been purchased and the date of purchase. The issue occurs when you have no proof of purchase other than the item itself and you have to ask the friend or family member if they have retained the receipt!
High street sale
Where sale items are not faulty, you are not legally entitled to return it. You can only return non-faulty goods for an exchange or refund where the returns policy states as such.
Many shops set out a time limit for the return of non-faulty goods such as 28 days. However, they may differ from shop to shop so consumers should be aware of the individual shop policies.
Due to the major increase in online spending, there has been a need to create rights for consumers who purchase through distance selling through the Consumer Contracts Regulations.
When purchasing online, sellers must include specific information including:
A description of the goods
The total price of the goods
How to pay for the goods
Any and all additional delivery charges
Details of who pays to return items
Details of any rights in regards to cancelling
Additional rights from those purchases made on the high street include:
Cancelling your order
When ordering online, you can cancel an order from the moment you place the order to 14 days after you receive it.
If, within the company’s returns policy, the cost to return goods is not set out then the company must pay.
Contacting the company
The online retailer must provide details of who they are and how to contact them
As under the Consumer Rights Act, the goods must be fit for purpose, as described and of satisfactory quality, if they are not then they can be returned.
Additional issues to consider
An additional comment regarding purchases online can be that some online retailers state that the price of your order will be fixed as of the day that they are dispatched to you. Many supermarkets do this and this could meet that if you are ordering based upon a deal or offer, the offer may not be viable on the day the item is dispatched leaving you to pay more than you expected.
Many people do not know that you are unable to return certain items. These items are:
Perishable items including food and drink;
Personalised items; and
DVDs, CDs and other computer based items with their seals broken
Where goods are, in fact, faulty, you have the right to refund, replace or repair the item. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 sets out that consumers are able to return a faulty item in full within usually 30 days of purchase. After this point, the consumer may only be able to request a repair or replacement.
Where you have bought the gift, you can return the goods along with the receipt as proof of purchase. You could however also request a repair or replacement instead if that is what you would prefer.
Where you receive a gift and it is faulty, the difficulty again arises where you do not have proof of purchase. Usually around Christmas time, shops are more Usually around Christmas time, shops are more likely to be lenient with their policies however they will have the right to say no as proof of purchase is expected.
People usually purchase gifts earlier than the reasonable time periods set out in shop returns policies. Around Christmas, many high street shops allow for this by extending their return policy periods and allowing for extended exchange, refund and credit note returns over the festive period.
If it doesn’t go to plan
Where the goods are not of satisfactory quality, as described or fit for purpose, you should:
Act quickly – you only have a set amount of time to reject something faulty usually 30 days
Repair or replace – if you would rather or if you have ran out of time to reject, you can ask for a repair or replacement (if these are unsuccessful, you can again request a refund)
Contact the seller – if the retailer refuses to refund, repair or replace a faulty item, you should complain to the store. Where the item was a gift, you will likely need the purchaser to complain as the contract is between the purchaser and the retailer.
Complain – if it is not resolved at retailer level, a complaint can be escalated to the Consumer Ombudsman provided you have allowed the retailer time to comply
Practically, the best option for consumers is to know your rights at the outset. Alongside the information set out above, you should always enquire as to the retailer’s individual policies prior to purchasing and you should retain all of your receipts.
Over the Christmas period, further enquiries about returns policies should be made as they will likely be extended over into the New Year. If you are giving a gift, requesting a gift receipt and giving it alongside the present would allow for a much less stressful start to the New Year.