As the festive season comes to a close, people will be sorting their gifts out and realising they received presents that they didn’t particularly want.
Whether it’s an unwanted item of clothing or the wrong sports team strip, there are always gifts that people have smiled at when receiving before hiding in the depths of their cupboards. Thankfully, the Money Saving Expert team have released a full guide on what to do if you have been given a gift you do not want.
The guide explains how to return it, sell it or just simply give it away to somebody else.
Return rights for a faulty item, whether it was bought online or instore
Regardless of how the item was bought, you can get a full refund on the faulty product if you return it within 30 days, according to law. After 30 days, the store’s obliged to provide a repair or replacement item in the first instance – though of course it may choose to offer you a refund if you ask.
If you weren’t the buyer of the item, but have a gift receipt, then many stores transfer the above rights to you – but this isn’t specifically stated in consumer law. Even without a gift receipt, it’s worth trying as you never know.
What counts as a faulty item?
When you buy an item from a retailer, you have basic statutory rights. Goods bought by yourself or others must be of satisfactory qualify as described, fit for a purpose and to last a reasonable length of time.
How to return a product that was bought in store
Legally, neither you nor the buyer have any automatic right to return items bought in stores, unless they’re faulty.
Many retailers have their own, more generous return policies, which means the buyer may be able to return the present and get a refund, exchange or credit note. However, this is technically a voluntary goodwill gesture offered at the store’s discretion, not a legal right.
That said, many shops do allow the recipient to return gifts even if they have a gift receipt or proof of purchase. Again it’s a voluntary goodwill gesture, and it’s much more likely you’ll get an exchange or credit note rather than a refund, but it’s usually offered if you ask.
Of course, if you weren’t given a gift receipt when you got the present, or any other proof of purchase, then you may need to have an awkward conversation with whoever bought you the gift to get some proof of purchase to be able to return it.
If you’re uncomfortable doing that, you could try with the store anyway, but there are no guarantees it’ll work.
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How to return a product that was bought online
If your unwanted gift was purchased online, then the good news is that the buyer has return rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulations. Essentially, the person who bought the item has 14 days after the order was received to notify the seller that they intend to return the item and get a full refund.
If this happens, then the buyer has a further 14 days to return the item after notifying the seller. So even if there’s nothing wrong with the item and you just want to get something else, unless it’s something perishable or personalised, you can ask the person who gave it to you to return it.
Many online retailers extend the returns window during the festive season, with goods bought throughout November and December often returnable throughout January. It is worth checking with each individual online store.
It is also worth noting that if the product is not faulty, you may still need to pay delivery costs.
What do I do if I don’t have a receipt?
If you weren’t given a gift receipt and the item you’re returning isn’t faulty, it’s definitely worth trying to get the original receipt from the person who bought the present – some shops may allow you to return items without one, but it depends on the individual store’s returns policy.
If the gift is faulty, you don’t need a receipt – you simply need to show ‘proof of purchase’ such as a bank statement or credit card statement.
Cost-effective ways to get rid of unwanted presents
The best way to get rid of presents you don’t want is gift them to someone else. Chances are, one present you don’t like is someone else’s dream gift.
It might be a good idea to keep a drawer or cardboard box in your wardrobe for such gifts and make it your first port of call before you buy anything new. Also, many charity shops across the UK are crying out for good quality, unwanted or duplicate gifts – and it is a good thing to do this festive season.
Some charity shops even accept donations by post, especially if they sell online. For example, the British Heart Foundation accepts smaller quality items such as branded clothing, jewellery and technology using its freepost donation service.
You can visit the Money Saving Expert website for more information on what to do with unwanted or duplicate gifts.