News item

Can you take it back?

Contrary to popular belief, you don't automatically have the right to return unwanted Christmas gifts and claim a refund advises West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service. However you may be able to take advantage of the shops' goodwill policy.

Only the actual purchaser who has a contract and is entitled to certain rights under the law, for example asking for a refund if the product is not as described, unfit for purpose or of unsatisfactory quality.

Some shops may provide gift receipts that offer the same rights to the person who has received the gift even though they didn’t purchase it themselves.
Many shops offer goodwill policies and allow you to exchange goods for other items or credit notes, although this is not a legal obligation if there is nothing wrong with the goods.

The situation can be different for goods bought online. Online shoppers usually have the right to cancel their orders for up to seven working days after delivery so buyers who received goods just before Christmas may have a small window of opportunity after the big day to cancel and request a no quibble refund. 

In this case the online trader must provide a full refund within 30 days although you may have to pay for the cost of return carriage. There are some items which cannot be cancelled such as perishable goods or goods made to order.
Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said: 'Even if you don’t have any legal rights to return goods, many shops will allow you to exchange goods or get a credit note so it's worth checking their policies.

"If an item is faulty or damaged then you should always try to take it back as soon as you can. In each case, always try to take the receipt or other proof of purchase such as a bank or credit card statement with you.'
Councillor Neil Taggart, Chair of West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said, “Many people do not realise that they don’t have the legal right to return goods if they are not faulty. Making sure that you know your rights when it comes to buying and returning gifts may save you some real time and effort.

"A cash refund for unwanted items won’t always be offered, but you may be able to request an exchange or a credit note, so it's worth acting quickly.”
Shoppers hitting the sales should also be aware that they have exactly the same rights when they buy sale items as they do for full price goods. It’s also worth remembering that some additional warranties may not necessarily provide value for money as your new purchase is already covered under your statutory rights.
Further information about your rights and advice on solving consumer disputes can be obtained by calling Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.