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Faulty Christmas gifts? Your return rights explained

Many shoppers unsure of their rights to refunds and returns


With Christmas Day now behind us, you might be returning some unwanted or faulty gifts, but do you know your rights?

Which? research released earlier this year found that a third of people hadn’t heard of the new Consumers Rights Act.

The new Act – which became UK law on 1 October 2015 – has given consumers clear rights on refunds and repairs and new rights on faulty digital content.

The survey found that consumers were unsure of their refund rights and what they’re entitled to if a product develops a fault.

If you’ve purchased a faulty product any time after 1 October 2015, you can request a refund, repair or replacement using our faulty goods tool to create a ready-to-go letter to sign and send off to the retailer.

Returning an unwanted gift?

Around four in ten shoppers we surveyed incorrectly believed they had a legal right to a refund if they changed their mind, while another four in ten knew that you don’t.

Returns policies are entirely dependent upon the retailer and there is no legal requirement for them to have a policy, however if one exists, it is a contractual agreement they must stick to, so check out the stores’ return policy online before you take the item back.

Fortunately, if you shop online you have additional rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which give you 14 days from delivery for a refund if you change your mind. 

However, exceptions to this include CDs and DVDs with a broken seal and tailor-made or personalised items.

Faulty products

Which? Director of Campaigns and Communications Alex Neill said ‘It’s naturally disappointing when something you’ve bought turns out to be faulty, but don’t despair, you do have rights.

‘If you’re returning something this Christmas, whether it’s not quite right or faulty, check your rights before you hit the high street and be sure to act quickly to avoid further disappointment.’

Which?’s survey also found that a quarter of people didn’t know how long they had to return a faulty item, with as many as two in five people guessing incorrectly.

If an item is faulty consumers are protected under the Consumer Rights Act, which means that you have 30 days to return the item and receive a full refund. Even after this time you can ask the retailer to repair or replace your faulty item.  

Consumer Minister Nick Boles said: ‘You know that present you got from your aunt – who still seems to think you are 13 years old. Well the good news is you can probably return it.

‘The Consumer Rights Act makes clear what rights people have. And we can all be grateful to Which? for continuing to spread the word at one of one of the busiest times in the shopping calendar.’

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