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Shoppers overestimate returns rights

Christmas shoppers incorrectly believe that returning an unwanted item in store is a right

More than half of shoppers are overestimating their returns rights when doing Christmas shopping on the high street, new Which? research has found.

If you do your Christmas shopping in store, you could be in for a nasty surprise if you go to return an unwanted item and think you’re automatically entitled to a refund.

When asked about returning an unwanted product bought in store, 52% of the 2,000 shoppers questioned incorrectly thought it was their right to request a full refund. This misconception has increased from 42% in 2016.

Store returns policy vs online returns

Each retailer decides their own returns policy for non-faulty goods, so if you change your mind about something you’ve bought in-store or you want to return an unwanted gift, you may not be eligible for a refund.

However, if you shop online you have rights to return an unwanted item. You are legally entitled to a full refund for a non-faulty purchase online if you change your mind and notify the retailer within 14 days of delivery. You then have a further 14 days to return it.

While 94% of Christmas shoppers said they intended to buy online this year, most said they will also be shopping in store. Only 5% revealed that they would be shopping exclusively on the internet.

Which? is advising shoppers to do their research and check retailers’ returns policies before making a purchase in store this Christmas.

Check the retailer’s returns policy

In the recent survey, only one in five Christmas shoppers told Which? that they look at the returns policy. Twice as many admitted that they don’t look at a retailer’s returns policy when making a purchase and a similar proportion only look sometimes.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: ‘Don’t let indecision or unwanted gifts spoil your festive cheer, make sure you know your return and refund rights before you hit the shops.

‘Most of us have bought something that we later want to take back, so do your research and check the retailers’ returns policies to avoid a nasty surprise.’

Most retailers impose time limits for returning non-faulty products, such as 28 days, but many extend around Christmas, for example, so you might have more time than you think.

Black Friday crowds

If a product you’ve bought develops a fault and you’re looking to return it, you have the right to a refund, repair or replacement under the Consumer Rights Act – regardless of whether you purchased it online or in store.

The research referenced was carried out by Populus on behalf of Which? among 2,089 residents of the UK online between 6 and 7 November 2017. Data was weighted to be representative of age and gender of residents in the UK.

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