Returning Christmas Presents – A Retailer’s Rights
The complaint that tops the table here at the Retail Ombudsman in January is always ‘the return of Christmas gifts’. To this end, it is clear that many consumers do not know what their rights are in this area (or more importantly what they are not entitled to). Equally, traders need to have a good understanding of what their rights are, here’s what you need to know.
The legal position
When consumers purchase ‘in-store’ there is no obligation on traders to accept returns unless an item is faulty, not as described or is unfit for purpose, unless the trader has a goodwill returns policy.
Consumers have additional rights when they purchase from traders online or from anywhere that is away from their business premises (such as from a magazine, at an exhibition etc..). In this respect, the Consumer Contract Regulations affords consumers the right to cancel an order and therefore return goods, from the moment they place the order until 14 days after delivery. However, this right does not apply to:
- DVDs, music and computer software
- Perishable goods
- Made to order/bespoke goods
Most traders have some form of returns policy which provides that consumers can return goods, where there is no statutory right, under certain conditions. During the Christmas shopping period, it is advisable to have a specific written policy for returning Christmas presents. This should provide whether you accept returns of Christmas presents and if you do confirm:
- What your policy is where the recipient of the gift returns the goods as opposed to the purchaser – will you accept this and if so do they need a receipt/gift receipt?
- The time limit on returning the goods.
- Any other conditions – such as the goods being in the original undamaged packaging.
- Whether you will refund, offer an exchange or provide a credit note.
Returns policies are usually displayed on receipts, on signs in-store and online. The important point is to make sure your returns policy is ‘prominent’ and therefore easily accessible to consumers.
Read more consumer advice articles here.
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