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5 tips to dodge a Valentine’s Day disaster

Know your rights to avoid consumer pitfalls this Valentine’s Day

Every couple’s hope on Valentine’s Day is for things to go smoothly, especially if you’re planning a surprise. 

But if, for some reason, it’s looking like that surprise will be for all the wrong reasons, you want to be able to fix things – fast.

Here are our top consumer rights tips for common Valentine’s Day mishaps, to help you be the hero or heroine of the moment.

If your delivery has gone missing or your flight has been delayed, you can find simple ways to solve everyday consumer problems on Which? Consumer Rights.

1. Undelivered gifts

It’s 14 February and your surprise gift still hasn’t arrived. What should you do?

If your order is late or simply doesn’t turn up, your rights vary depending on the type of delivery you paid for and the type of compensation you’re hoping to get.

According to the Consumer Rights Act, goods ordered online must be delivered within 30 days, unless otherwise agreed.

If you paid for delivery by a certain time or date and your item turns up late or not at all, this is a breach of contract, and you have the right to terminate the purchase and get a full refund.

OK, it’s maybe not the solution you were after, but at least you can spend that cash on another romantic gesture at a later date…

For more information, see our guide on how to complain if your parcel is late or doesn’t turn up.

2. Restaurant problems

If you’re planning a visit to the swanky new restaurant in town, remember that you have the right to expect food of satisfactory quality that is ‘as described’ on the menu.

If the restaurant does not adhere to these Consumer Rights Act expectations, it will be in breach of contract, and you shouldn’t have to pay.

If the food is great but the service is poor, you can also refuse to pay the service charge under the Consumer Rights Act.

Read our step-by-step guide to get money off your bill for poor-quality food or find out more about your rights if you haven’t experienced reasonable care and skill from a restaurant’s service.

3. The wrong tickets

It would be upsetting to order tickets to an event only to receive the wrong ones. In this case, the company might be in breach of contract.

If your tickets aren’t what you ordered, and the ticket seller fails to send the correct ones, you have several options, including formally rejecting the tickets or claiming the difference between what was ordered and what you received.

For more information, see our guide on how to complain if your tickets are not what you ordered.

4. Not so romantic getaway

If you encounter issues with flights for your romantic mini break, your legal position will depend on where are flying from and to.

If you’re flying with an airline based in the EU, or with a non-EU-based airline flying from an EU airport, then you’re protected by the Denied Boarding Regulation.

According to this, if your flight delay is expected to last beyond a certain duration, the airline is obligated to offer you assistance.

Depending on the distance of your flight, and the length and reason for your delay, you could also be entitled to claim compensation.

For requirements and entitlements, take a look at our guide to flight delays.

5. Returning a gift

Have you found out that your sweetheart already owns the thoughtful gift you’ve bought? Is it not actually as nice as it looked in the advert? Or perhaps you bought the wrong item from a collection they like?

If you’re looking to return a gift, you may be surprised to learn that high street shops don’t have to accept returns unless an item is faulty, not as described or unfit for purpose.

You should check the returns policy to see if you can return the unwanted item – if a shop has a returns policy, it has to stick to it.

If you ordered the item online, you’ll be pleased to know that, under the Consumer Rights Act, you have additional rights to return it up to 14 days from the day you received it.

This is because your decision to buy it may have be based on a brief description or a photograph, so what you receive may not always be quite what you expected.

If you’re returning a gift because it’s faulty, your rights relate to the retailer, not the manufacturer. To find out more, see our guide on how to get a faulty product replaced or repaired.

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