Tuesday 27 December 2016

Tips To Returning Your Unwanted Christmas Gifts


More than three quarters of us received an unwanted Christmas gift last year, according to research from Policy Expert, so prepare yourself now.

Once your false smile fades from your face you’ll no doubt be wondering how you can get a refund without causing offence.

Know your rights

You do not have an automatic legal right to return an item bought on the high street simply because you do not like it. James Walker, managing director of consumer rights website Resolver.co.uk, says in practice most retailers operate a goodwill returns policy allowing you to take back unused items for an exchange, refund or credit note, at their own discretion: “Some, such as Marks & Spencer, are famously generous, but don’t count on that.”

Typically you will get a refund only if you return the item within 28 days, although some may extend this to cover Christmas gifts. The sooner you act, the better.

Your rights are stronger for items bought online, via a phone or mail order as you can get a full refund within 14 days simply because you do not want it.

However, this does not help much with unwanted gifts as you will have to admit you do not like your present and ask the giver to return it on your behalf.

The law is firmly on your side if you have been given an item that is faulty. You will get an automatic refund if you return it within 30 days, although after that the retailer is entitled to offer a replacement or repair instead.

Proof of purchase

Returning an item is always much easier if you can get your hands on the receipt. Walker says: “You might have to bite the bullet and ask the giver if they don’t mind providing you with proof of payment.”

Many of us will be reluctant to cause offence by doing that. In that case, getting a refund will be harder, but not impossible, he says: “Don’t give up, that doesn’t mean you have to stuff that dodgy jumper into the back of the wardrobe.”

Without a receipt, your chances of success depend on the goodwill of the store or even the individual on the till.

Check the shop’s returns policy before you head off, either on the receipt if you have one, its website or by ringing its customer services line, Walker advises: “Do not remove any tags and take any packaging that you have.”

Having a receipt stacks the odds in your favour, but you can still run into problems.

“Some shops will only refund the money onto the card of the purchaser,” Walker adds.

Most will give you a credit note or exchange instead, so consider whether that is acceptable.

Gift receipt

If you have yet to finish your Christmas shopping you can make life easier for recipients by checking the store’s returns policy, which must be clearly displayed, and requesting a gift receipt, which shows proof of purchase without displaying the price.

Hannah Maundrell, editor-in-chief of comparison site Money.co.uk, says: “This enables the recipient to return the item within a certain time and also gives them rights if anything goes wrong.”

A gift receipt does not guarantee a cash refund, but it should at least secure a credit note, voucher or exchange in a set period, she says.

If you haven’t requested a gift receipt you could always pass on receipts in a sealed envelope, or give them to another family member to pass on discreetly where necessary.

Maundrell adds: “If you can’t get your money back from the store and there’s nothing you would want to exchange it for, why not try putting it on eBay? Or maybe re-gift it as somebody else’s birthday or Christmas present, assuming they’ll like it more than you did.”

A final alternative is to remember this is the season of goodwill and hand the unwanted gifts to charity.



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