Returning a faulty good or unwanted present – know your rights!

December 29, 2015

It can be hard to know what your consumer rights are with the sales in full swing and some shops displaying signs saying “No Refunds” or “No Exchanges.” So we have a quick guide to some of the most frequently asked questions on consumer rights at this time of the year:

What are my rights if something I bought or received turns out to be faulty?

  • If you buy an item and it turns out to be faulty, you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund, depending on what the fault is.
  • If you were told about the fault before you bought the item, you would not be entitled to a repair, replacement or refund for that fault.
  • Remember, keep your receipts as proof of purchase and the price you paid.
  • Your contract is with the retailer or supplier who sold you the product so if there is a fault, it is up to them to fix it. In all cases you should act quickly.
  • If you have received a faulty Christmas gift and you don’t have a gift receipt, you may need to ask the person who bought it for you to take the item back or to give you the receipt.
  • Remember, proof of purchase doesn’t have to be a receipt, it can also be a copy of a debit or credit card bill.
  • You should check to see if the item you bought comes with a guarantee or warranty and see what terms are attached. A guarantee is an agreement from the manufacturer confirming that they will repair or replace an item if something goes wrong within a certain amount of time after you buy it. So you know all of your options, find out if the manufacturer will offer a repair or replacement, but remember a guarantee or warranty doesn’t replace your consumer rights. If you have received an item that turns out to be faulty and you don’t have the receipt and you don’t want to ask for one, using the guarantee may be your best option.
  • If you have a complaint about faulty items, shop notices such as “No Refunds” or “No Exchanges” do not limit your rights. If the item is faulty you have rights.

Can I return an unwanted present or purchase to the shop?

  • If you buy or receive something at any time and you simply change your mind, you are not automatically entitled to return it for a refund or exchange. This applies to items you buy in store.
  • However, some shops will give you a refund with proof of purchase or allow you to exchange the item. This is shop policy and not consumer law and some shops change their returns policy if an item is on sale.

Do my rights change during the sales?

  • You have the same consumer rights during the sales as you do at any other time of year.
  • So, if you buy an item and it turns out to be faulty, you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund, depending on what the fault is.
  • Remember, whether a shop is having a sale or not, you are not automatically entitled to a refund or exchange of an item if you simply change your mind.
  • You also don’t have an automatic right to return it if the fault was pointed out before you bought it.

 What if I bought something at full price and it is now on sale?

  • If the item is faulty, you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund, regardless of whether the item is on sale. But it is best to have proof of what you originally paid.
  • If you have just changed your mind (and the item is not faulty), the shop is under no legal obligation to refund or exchange it. However, some shops have a customer-friendly policy for change of mind– but you would still need your receipt to prove you paid full price in order to get a full refund.
  • If you buy goods at full price but change your mind about them and return them, and they are now on sale at a lower price, you may only be entitled to the reduced amount if the shop is willing to offer a refund.
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