Can you get a refund for your Christmas gift?

It’s not too late. Christmas is over for another year and hopefully, you received some lovely gifts, but there’s always one…. a gift that is either random, ugly or just plain faulty. You may be asking yourself, can I get a refund?

The short answer is: not without a receipt. With a receipt in-hand, there are some pretty strong and clear consumer rights relating to returns: the 2015 Consumer Rights Act.

Quality of the Product

It goes without saying that products should live up to satisfactory quality, be fit-for-purpose and come just as it was described.

  1. Satisfactory quality. The word ‘satisfactory’ is a bit ambiguous here but, generally, products shouldn’t come faulty or damaged unless clearly stated (e.g. selling an item for parts). For everything else, it largely depends on the item. Luxury products tend to be held to a higher standard than bargain store items.
  2. Fit for purpose.  Less ambiguously, if the item doesn’t do what it should do, then it’s not fit for purpose. If your new diving mask lets in water, it’s not fit for purpose.
  3. As described.  The least ambiguous of all. If the product is different from the description provided or models/samples shown before purchase, then it’s not as described.

If your gift doesn’t meet any of the criteria above, then you have a strong claim under the Consumer Rights Act. It’s also up to the seller to fix the problem, so don’t put up with excuses about sending it back to the manufacturer.

You should try and claim as soon as possible as there are certain time limits placed on returns…

30-day right to reject

Within 30 days, you have the greatest level of consumer protection. If any product falls short of the criteria above, you can return with a receipt within 30 days for a full refund. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that the 30 days starts from when the item was received by the purchaser.

Over 30 days ‒ repair or replace

Being outside of the 30-day window doesn’t mean you have to put up with an unsatisfactory, faulty, unfit for purpose or not-as-described gift. However, you must give the seller an opportunity to repair or replace the product. You can only claim a refund or discount if the seller’s attempt to repair the item is unsuccessful or they’re unable to replace it.

Within six months

Faults sometimes take a few months to develop. If it’s within six months of the purchaser receiving the item, it’s assumed the problem was always there and the seller is responsible for repairing or replacing the item. If you want to keep the product anyway, you can request a discount on the item.

Over six months

While trickier to prove, you can still make a return claim after six months. You’ll need to somehow show that the item was faulty when it arrived, which may require an expert report or other evidence, for example where there is a known fault across the entire range.

The maximum time to claim is six years after receiving the product and you’ll have to go through small claims court in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As you can see, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is a helpful piece of legislation. Consumers are protected from faulty, unfit or not-as-described goods, digital content and services. But what if you simply don’t like the item, it’s just not what you wanted ‒ can you still get a refund or exchange?

The answer is: it depends on the retailer. If you have the receipt, most retailers will still offer a refund or exchange for unwanted goods within a specific timeframe. Check the seller’s website for information on refund and exchange periods. Outside those timeframes, there is no legal obligation to offer either a refund or exchange on an unwanted item.


This article was written by: Amanda Hamilton is Chief Executive of the National Association of Licenced Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit Membership Body and the only Paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). Through its Centres, accredited recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered for a career as a paralegal professional.


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