Christmas Returns Policies – What you need to know

There’s no escaping the fact that Christmas is just around the corner so it’s time to get prepared for the big Christmas shopping extravaganza. However, one of the inevitable facts of Christmas is that many of us get undesirable or unwanted presents. It may be your Gran bought you a jumper from ASOS that is three sizes too big or you bought your son the wrong Xbox game from Amazon, either way it’s always good to get ahead of the game and know how to go about returning Christmas presents.

The festive period can send customers and customer services into a spin, but what exactly are your consumer rights when it comes to returning unwanted items? Well, retailers are in fact under no legal obligation to offer an exchange or refund for a gift unless the item was faulty when you purchased it, is not fit for purpose or doesn’t appear as originally described. This translates to the fact that if you don’t like it or it doesn’t fit, you legally don’t have a leg to stand on.

Above & Beyond

Thankfully for consumers, most retailers do in fact go above and beyond their legal obligations, so you’ll often have instances where you can take an item back that is wrongly sized or you don’t like it and they will usually provide you with an exchange or credit note for the store. But you may need to provide proof of purchase such as a gift certificate or bank statement.

This of course poses a problem if it was a gift bought by someone else and you don’t have the receipt or it’s been lost, although around Christmas time, many stores may offer a “goodwill” gesture of exchange, credit note or refund, but don’t bank on that happening everywhere.

It’s worth bearing in mind there are certain items you can’t return, which include CDs, DVDs and computer software with broken seals, perishable items and made to order gifts, so you may well be stuck with the personalised Christmas jumper for many years to come!

Christmas returns

Getting a Full Refund

Many people returning unwanted Christmas gifts might well be getting excited about getting a full refund to spend on something they actually like. But don’t get your hopes up here as legally retailers are only obliged to give a full refund if the product you’re returning has a fault, and in most cases they’ll issue you a full credit note for their store or an exchange.

If a gift is faulty, you are fully within your consumer rights to return it to the shop, regardless of whether it’s Christmas or not and ask for a full refund, but make sure you do so within “reasonable time”, as waiting until three months after Christmas probably won’t get you anywhere. What constitutes as “reasonable time” is down to the retailer and their returns policy, if they even have one, but most offer a 28-day return period. Plus, with so many people buying presents early these days, some shops now extend their return period for Christmas gifts to give a little more leeway.

Always check the Returns Policy

The best way to avoid disappointment when taking items back is to check the retailer’s policy before you make a purchase. Most suppliers will show this on their receipts, in-store and online or make a call to the Customer Service desk.

However, if you’re buying gifts online you actually have additional rights as a consumer under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) regulations 2013. This means that when you purchase products online, you have the right to cancel your order from the moment you’ve placed it up until 14 days after you receive them.

In addition to this many online retailers, such as Amazon, have extended their Christmas Returns Policy, so for any purchases made from 1st November until 31st December 2015, can be returned at any time up until midnight on 31st January 2016.