Don’t be fobbed off

Under the Consumer Rights Act the retailer is responsible for providing goods that are of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose to the person buying those goods.

The customer purchasing the goods should do the following:

  • Act quickly for a refund You only have 30 days in which to reject something that's faulty and get your money back. 
  • Repair or replacement If time has run out for a refund, or if you prefer, you can ask for a free repair or replacement. If that repair or replacement is unsuccessful then you're entitled to a refund.
  • Make contact as soon as possible We recommend phoning or visiting the retailer to explain the problem as soon as possible. In the first six months from when you purchase the item, the onus is on the seller to prove the item was of satisfactory quality at the point of sale.
  • How to complain if the retailer won’t budge If you encounter a retailer that refuses to refund, repair or replace a faulty item, you should complain in writing to the store manager. But you may need the person who bought the gift to pursue the retailer as the sales contract is between the purchaser of the goods and the seller.
  • Go to the ombudsman You can escalate your complaint to the Consumer Ombudsman providing you have given the company a reasonable amount of time - usually up to eight weeks - to resolve your problem. You can use our advice on taking your complaint to an ombudsman.


If you're the recipient of a faulty Christmas gift, you may need to ask the person who bought it for you to take the item back to the shop or to give you the receipt to do so. This is because the contract is between the purchaser and the retailer

Christmas gift returns

It's worth noting that if you're the recipient of a Christmas gift that's faulty, you may need to ask the person who bought it to take the item back to the shop or to give you the receipt because the contract is between the purchaser and the retailer.

Fortunately, many retailers issue gift receipts or have returns policies geared around gifts at Christmas which may make it easier to take the item back without having to involve the person who gave you the gift. 

Read more on how to reject your faulty item and get your money back.

Refund, repair or replacement?

If you receive a faulty gift, you may need to go back to the person that bought it as any refund may need to be made to the purchaser's card.

A repair or replacement may be easier if you don't have a receipt or don't want to let the person who gave you the gift know there was a problem. 

Around Christmas, most retailers are quite flexible and willing to act on your request. But retailers may opt for the cheaper of these two options. 

So it’s best to be as friendly as possible – especially at Christmas – as this is more likely to result in your preferred option.

Read more on how to get a faulty product replaced or repaired. 

Using guarantees and warranties

  • What are they? Most electrical items are sold with a manufacturer's guarantee (or warranty), often for a year. Guarantees are a contract between yourself and the manufacturer. The manufacturer must do whatever it says it will do in the guarantee. Usually this will be to repair or replace a faulty item.
  • When to use them If a fault occurs after purchase and you don't have the receipt (and don't want to ask for one), pursuing the guarantee may be your best remedy.

Online return rights at Christmas 

If you receive a faulty item that you bought online, your rights under the Consumer Rights Act remain the same as if you bought the item from a high street store. 

But the good news is you also have additional rights that allow you to cancel your order (for most items) under the Consumer Contracts Regulations

From the moment you place an order up to 14 days after you receive your goods you are legally entitled to cancel your order. 

As with shopping on the high street, retailers often extend their return periods at Christmas, so it's worth checking return policies as these may give you longer to change your mind. 

There are some items that the regulations don't allow you to cancel. For example, personalised and made-to-order items or perishable products, such as food and flowers. 

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