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Top five tips for buying last minute Christmas gifts

Don’t get caught out when buying Christmas presents


Christmas is just around the corner so if you’re looking for last minute presents, make sure you know your rights.  

Whether your gifts are faulty, don’t show up, or you simply want to return a gift, follow the Which? top tips to buying and returning Christmas presents. 

1. Christmas present buying rights

When you buy something, it means you’ve entered into a contract with the retailer. The Sale of Goods Act states that goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality, and fit for purpose.

If the presents you buy fail to meet these standards, you have the right to make a claim to the retailer.

It’s the seller’s responsibility to prove that a faulty product was damaged by you if the problem arises within the first six months of buying the product.  

2. Online shopping rights

Online shopping offers a hassle-free shopping experience, but it can be easy to make a mistake, and sometimes what you receive isn’t what you were expecting.

The Distance Selling Regulations give you extra protection when you shop online. 

For example, you can cancel your order up to seven working days from the date after your receive it. For more tips, see our guide to online shopping rights.

3. Online delivery rights

More than 60% of people have had delivery problems with something bought online, according to a recent Which? survey.

It’s the seller that’s responsible for any damage or breakage en route to you. So you shouldn’t be told to take up your complaint with the delivery company.

Your goods should also be delivered within a reasonable time but what’s construed as reasonable varies. 

It’s worth checking your estimated delivery time, and if a reasonable time has passed you can either cancel your order, or you may be able to claim compensation.

If a parcel is left without your permission with a neighbour who denies having it, you can ask the seller to resend the order at no extra cost to you.

4. eBay buying tips

eBay can be a great place to pick up bargains. But it’s important to remember it’s not the same as an online store, but a marketplace where you can buy from individuals and organisations.

Bear in mind the seller rating and feedback so you know what others have said about their experience with the seller.

The way you buy also affects your legal rights. Find out more about your rights in our guide to buying on eBay.

5. Returning your goods

If you’re returning a faulty product, you’re covered by the Sale of Goods Act, and the Distance Selling Regulations if you’re buying online.

However, high street shops don’t have to accept returns unless an item is faulty, not as described or is unfit for purpose. 

Most retailers choose to provide a ‘goodwill’ returns policy though, offering an exchange, refund or credit note for most reasons.

There are certain items bought online that you can’t return though. These include perishable items like food and flowers, and anything that has been made to order or personalised. 

Watch out with DVDs, music and computer software as well, as many retailers refuse returns if the seal or packaging has been broken.

More on this… 

  • See all of our advice on your rights this Christmas
  • Travelling home this Christmas? Read your Christmas travel rights
  • See all our tips this Christmas, including lots of gift ideas
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