less than wond'rous gift
looms and soon you will be unwrapping bright packages.
But what if the contents are not quite what you had
hoped? Nell Boase looks at your consumer rights.
December 4, 2003
are two types of problematic presents: those that are
faulty and those you just do not like. The way to deal
with them will depend on how the gifts were purchased:
was it in a shop, online or by mail order?
main thing to remember is that shops are not required
by law to take back goods simply because you do not
like them. By contrast, mail order or internet sellers
are required to provide a seven day "cooling off
period" to allow you to examine your purchase.
course, many shops do offer a returns policy that includes
a "no quibble guarantee" or "in-home
trial" where you are allowed to return goods, for
any reason, within a specified number of days. The shops
are legally required to stand by whatever policy they
the item was purchased online then you should be able
to send it back without a reason but beware of return
deadlines. Companies are only required to provide a
seven-day window, though many are lenient about delays
around Christmas as they acknowledge that you may only
just have received a gift.
the retailer specifies otherwise, expect to pay the
cost of returning goods. This may be simply the petrol
or bus ticket to the store, but with online vendors
you may end up paying for recorded delivery - an expensive
undertaking for a heavy item. If the online vendor has
a high street outlet - such as John Lewis - you can
often return the goods to a store.
matter what returns policy a vendor has, it will not
affect your statutory rights. These basic consumer rights
are laid down in Sale of Goods Act 1979 (amended by
the Sale & Supply of Goods Act 1994) and they refer
to faulty or substandard items.
if an item is faulty, you are entitled to a full refund
or free repair.
are three other counts on which you are allowed to require
The goods are not of satisfactory quality. The quality
of goods includes their appearance and finish, their
safety and their durability. Goods must be free from
defects, even minor ones, except where these defects
have been brought to your attention by the seller.
The goods are not fit for their purposes. This includes
any particular purpose mentioned by you to the seller;
for example, a computer game that cannot be played on
the machine you had specified would be classed as unfit.
The goods are not as described. If you are told that
a shirt is 100% cotton, then it should not turn out
to be cotton and polyester
that in these cases you do not need to produce a receipt
but you may be required to provide proof of purchase.
You should be able to use a visa slip or similar.
is quite a range in companies' returns policies. If
you know that your friends and family are always returning
presents - no matter how lovingly they have been selected
- then do factor this in when you are deciding where
to buy your CDs and books.
it is not too discourteous, ask the giver for the receipt
for any gift you want to return; you will be more likely
to get a refund or exchange from a shop if you can prove
the item came from them. If you are the giver, then
keep your receipts and sales documents in case, heaven
forbid, someone wants to return one of your gifts.
ever, being polite will win you points. If you are having
problems with a sales assistant, it is always worth
asking to speak to a manager as they may have the authority
to grant you a refund. Look at the OFT website's section
about how to complain for more pointers.
of Fair Trading
standards services are a source of advice and some
will provide assistance. You'll find your nearest service
listed in the phone book under your local authority.
Advice Bureaux help with consumer problems and with
going to court.
Service provides information and advice about the
legal process, including the small claims procedure.
contractors and suppliers of services belong to trade
associations which run arbitration schemes. They are
listed in the phone book under "trade associations"
Their "no quibbles" guarantee means that if
for any reason you are unhappy with your purchase, you
can return it to them in its original condition, within
30 days of the date you received the item, unopened
(with any seals and shrink-wrap intact) and they will
issue a full refund for the price you paid for the item.
You will have to pay for postage and it is wise to make
this recorded delivery.
If for any reason you are unhappy with your purchase,
you can return it to them in good condition within 14
days and they will issue a full refund for the price
of the item, less a charge of £1.50 for handling,
insurance and restocking. They will be happy to refund
the purchase price in full if the return is a result
of their error or a defect.
Returns are free of charge. Simply return any unused
item within 14 days for a full refund to your account.
You can return items through their stores, excluding
large, bulky items. Stores cannot exchange items bought
online. You should remember to bring your delivery note.
You can also return items by courier (they provide a
number) or by post using their prepaid label.
Lewis (department store)
Any item may be returned for any reason within 28 days
of the date of despatch so long as it remains in a saleable
condition. They will refund the price of the item and
delivery to the purchaser.
If you are anything less than delighted with any gift,
fashion or home item for any reason, you can return
it unused and in a saleable condition within 28 days
of receipt for a full refund.
If for any reason you are not completely happy with
your purchase, simply return it within 16 days of delivery,
unused in its original packaging together with the receipt,
to any Argos store. They will exchange it or offer you
a full refund
Items purchased in error or unwanted gifts can be returned
for exchange provided they are returned in perfect condition,
accompanied by a valid Customer Advice Note and within
21 days of receipt. All goods must include original
packaging. They are unable to accept items that have
been previously exchanged or multiple returns.
sounds as if they never give full refunds, but they
do actually comply with the law by having a "withdrawal"
process for online purchases whereby you can cancel
your order and return goods up to seven days after having
Items purchased in error or unwanted gifts can be returned
for exchange or vouchers provided they are returned
in perfect condition with a receipt and within 28 days.
may cancel an online order for goods for any reason
at any time up to the end of the seventh working day
after you place your order even if you have already
received the goods. You must not remove the item from
its sealed pack and you must pay for the return postage.