Returning a gift? What are your rights?

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I read an article last week that said British shoppers spent an estimated £1.7million on unwanted Christmas presents every year.

This brought to mind the queues at the ‘returns’ counter in shops at this time of year; this surely must add to the stress we all feel when taking something back to a shop.

In fact there is no legal right to a refund or replacement for those gifts that you just simply don’t like.

Although, if you have the receipt, most high street retailers have a returns policy and will exchange goods for people or give them a credit note.

But there will be conditions and time limits attached to these policies, one of which will almost certainly be that the item should be returned in its original condition.

So it’s probably worth remembering not to remove any price tags or labels and to keep CDs and similar items wrapped until sure that they are indeed wanted. And always keep receipts.

Where goods are faulty, consumer law is tighter as it states that all goods must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. It’s worth noting that the sales receipt is not required for faulty goods, although the retailer will probably ask for some proof of purchase, such as a credit card or bank statement, if it’s not obvious that the item was brought in their store. That said the right to a refund or replacement of any item will depend on how and where it was bought and to some extent how it was paid for.

So it’s always worth taking a little time just to check on your consumer rights, before joining the queue at the returns counter.

Janis Harding

Bureau Manager

The CAB provides free money, legal and other advice to anyone who contacts us for help.

Please telephone 01280 816707 and select option 1 for the advice line or option 3 to hear our current opening hours, including our Thursday afternoon sessions at the Buckingham bureau and our outreach sessions in Winslow on Wednesdays.

The Buckingham Winslow & District Citizens Advice Bureau is an independent registered charity.