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What are my rights when buying Christmas presents?

Fred Isaac

Fred Isaac
Dec 28, 2016

It’s meant to be the season to by jolly, but Christmas can be very stressful when presents don’t go according to plan.

You’re more likely to be throwing the Christmas tree than rocking around it if gifts are faulty or undelivered.

Just ask the customers of Bay57, who have paid for festive jumpers that haven’t been delivered. One poor soul has been waiting for two years!

But don’t worry, as a consumer you are protected and retailers are obliged by law to provide goods of a certain standard.

Everything you need to know to make this Christmas run smoothly is in our guide.

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Getting a refund, repair or replacement from a retailer at Christmas:

You’re protected under the Consumer Rights Act. This states that retailers must provide products that are as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality.

Remember, recent changes to the Consumer Rights Act means you only have 30 days to reject a faulty order and get your money back. If this time lapses, you are still entitled to a replacement or repair of the dodgy product; and, if either of these are not successful, you can get a refund.

The contract is always between the buyer and the seller, so you may need to complain to the store with the person who bought you the present. Check the receipt though, because the retailer may have special conditions in place for Christmas.

To make a complaint about a retailer, shop or website that has let you down, post on A Spokesman Said

If you’re after a refund for a faulty product, there’s a chance you may need the card used to buy the gift.

Understandably, going to get your money back with the person who bought the gift might be awkward; plenty of retailers are flexible over the festive season so check their policy first to see if it’s necessary.


What do I do if my gift wasn’t delivered?

One of the most common gripes around Christmas is that gifts are delivered late or not delivered at all.

The thing to remember is to take up your case with the retailer NOT the delivery company – you have signed an agreement with the retailer and it’s their responsibility to make sure your gifts are delivered.

If the gift isn’t delivered, the retailer should resend it to you at no extra cost.

The default period for delivery is 30 days – unless you have agreed longer with them.

If your delivery is later than you agreed – and you needed it at a particular time, before Christmas Day for example – you have the right to cancel the order and get a full refund.


I ordered my gift online – what are my rights?

If you ordered the gift online, the good news is that you have extra protection under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

You have up to 14 days after you get your goods to legally cancel an order and get a refund.

Retailers often have specific returns policies so it’s worth checking with the store what they are.

Your refund should be processed within 14 days of the trader receiving goods or of you cancelling the order.

For more information about your online rights, visit our guide.


I don’t like my gift, can I return it?

Even if you are as talented as Father Christmas at buying presents, there will always be duds.

I remember when my Dad bought me a blue silk shirt when I was six years old; naturally, I put it straight in the bin.

But what are your rights when returning unwanted gifts?

As we have already said, if you bought the present online, you have 14 days to return it and get a refund.

With items bought on the High Street, you have no right to return a gift just because you don’t like it.

But, in the spirit of Christmas, many companies do offer exchanges, credit notes or even refunds for returned goods.

If an individual retailer does allow returns, there will be a time limit, so get in touch with them immediately and check.

To return a gift, you need to arm yourself with a few items: proof of purchase (a gift receipt is good if you have one), the debit or credit card the item was bought on and the original packaging.

Personalised items, DVDS or CDS where the seal has been broken and perishable goods like food can’t be returned. 


Guarantees and Warranties

Guarantees – a contract between you and the manufacturer of the purchased product – are just as valid at Christmas as any other time.

Most electrical items will be under warranty for a year, and most will enable you to get the item repaired or replaced.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!


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