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Christmas shopping rights

publication date: Nov 15, 2014
author/source: Dean Dunham

Dean DunhamWhen shopping you need to know what your rights are and importantly need to appreciate the different rights that you have when shopping online or in-store.

Shopping online

1. Returning Goods

When you shop online you have an automatic right to return the goods, without even having to give a reason, within 14 days after you receive them. This is due to the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

However, you have no right to return CDs or DVDs or software if you have broken the seal/packaging. You also cannot return anything perishable such as food or flowers and nor can you return personalised items.

2. Who pays for the postage when returning goods?

If an online retailer doesn’t confirm who is to pay to send returned goods back, then they must pay. You should therefore check what the position is with this before you complete your purchase.

3. Faulty goods

You always have the right to return faulty goods and the 14-day limit does not apply in this case. However, make sure you return them as soon as possible and before you return them take a photo of the faulty or damaged goods so that you have a record of the problem.

4. Order on time

When you place your order make sure that you specifically tell the retailer that you need delivery before Christmas. If the goods then arrive after Christmas the retailer will have breached the deal between you.

5. Check the T&C’s

Some online retailers say that the price of your order will be fixed the day the goods are dispatched to you. So, if you buy goods that are on offer you need to make sure that they will still be on offer when they are sent to you in situations where you have ordered in advance.

6. Use your credit card

If you buy items that cost between £100 and £30,000 use your credit card (or part pay at least £100 on your card) as this offers significant protections. If anything goes wrong, such as the goods are not delivered, the card company will pay your money back and take up the fight against the retailer for you.

Shopping on the high street

1. Gift receipt

One of the basic requirements of retailers when you return goods is that you produce the receipt/proof of purchase. However, when you buy a gift for someone you may not want him or her to know the cost. There is a simple solution in the form of a gift receipt. This is a receipt that the retailer can give you that acts as a proof of purchase without detailing the price paid for the goods.

One myth that I can also dispel is that you must have a receipt to return goods. Many retailers quote this and refuse to accept returns without the receipt. It is complete nonsense as they must give you a refund/exchange (in the certain situations) if you have "proof of purchase", which includes a bank statement or any other form of proof that shows that you purchased the goods you are returning.

2. Returning Goods

Unlike when you shop online you do not have an automatic right to return goods purchased in store, unless they are faulty. You should therefore confirm with the retailer at the point of purchase that they would accept a return of the goods if the recipient does not like it.

3. Faulty goods

As with online shopping you always have the right to return faulty goods or goods that do not comply with the law. So this is the point when you need to know the law so that you can quote it to a difficult retailer. The Sale of Goods Act 1979 says that goods must be:

  • as described by the retailer;
  • fit for the purpose that you purchased them for; and
  • of satisfactory quality.

4. Use your credit card

As with shopping online, it is always advisable to use your credit card so that you have that added insurance policy, especially if you are shopping with a little known retailer.

For more information on legal or consumer rights visit Dean’s website.