What are your rights when returning Christmas gifts?
Want to get your money back on faulty or unwanted gifts? Here's what you need to know.
It's the final countdown to Christmas - and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday now out of the way for another year, many people may have just a few items left to buy.
But what happens if you've changed your mind about a purchase made during the shopping bonanzas, or a friend or relative isn't as taken with that reindeer jumper as you thought they'd be when you bought it?
We asked James Walker, founder of Resolver.co.uk, which gives consumers free help to sort out complaints, for his top tips for knowing your rights when it comes to returning unwanted gifts...
What if I want to return a purchase but there's nothing wrong with it?
The good news is, if the item was bought online or on the phone, then you generally have 14 days to return it, under Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. However, usually the retailer will ask the purchaser to return the item - so you may have to confess to the buyer if a gift you received 'isn't your thing'.
What if I bought the item in store?
These rules don't extend to items bought in store, though you have several rights for faulty or misrepresented items. Some stores do allow you to return items with gift receipts - an additional receipt provided by the retailer with the price not included, so you can return or exchange items. You don't need to be the gift-giver to redeem a gift receipt, but the retailer can set the terms if the item isn't faulty.
What if the goods are faulty?
You've got lots of rights when it comes to goods or services that don't work. However, there are certain time limits you may need to bear in mind. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says you have 30 days from the date the goods were purchased to return the item if it's wonky or isn't as it was described. This matters because if you've asked for an item to be delivered by Father Christmas, or got the elves to pre-wrap it, you won't necessarily know if something is awry. You're entitled to a full refund if the goods are returned within 30 days.
What if it's over the 30 days?
If goods are faulty, you have up to six months to return the items - you may need to be prepared to compromise though as you could be looking at a repair or replacement. Even over the six-month mark, all is not lost, though you'll need to prove why you didn't realise the item was damaged, or that the problem isn't just down to wear and tear.
What about individual stores and their returns policies?
A retailer can't ignore the law, but many of them offer better returns policies as part of their deal to keep you as a loyal customer.
What if the provider of goods or services says the item isn't faulty?
A good starting point is asking, 'Does it do what it says on the tin?' If not, take the time to explain why you haven't got what you thought you were getting.
How can I dodge a delivery disaster in the run-up to Christmas?
It's easy to get carried away and click on the order button without checking key details. Firstly, are the goods coming from the UK or from abroad?
Loads of people get caught out on this one. It's also worth bearing in mind that a 'bargain' online might become less of a great deal when shipping costs are factored in.
Many online firms will give you a delivery 'estimate'. This doesn't guarantee delivery, but if it's well in advance of Christmas, they are giving you a reasonable expectation you'll have the item on time.
Also, check the delivery address. Many a gift has vanished because of old addresses stored with online retailers.
Check your details before you click! And try to allow at least two weeks before Christmas for your items to arrive - so if they're not on time, you've got time to make a complaint and get it sorted.