With Christmas shopping and present wrapping in full swing (or hopefully for many of you, now complete), next comes the gift giving, and returning…..
We’ve all been there. We’ve all given or received an unwanted present at some point and been forced to join the long queue at the returns desk. But do you have a right to your money back? The list of terms and conditions and the small print on store receipts and websites can be confusing. Here’s our short guide to knowing your UK consumer rights this Christmas.
Every time you buy something you make a contract with the seller. This contract is known as your basic statutory rights. Both you and the other party agree to terms and conditions. The seller has agreed to provide your ‘statutory rights’. These are legal rights that apply to all shops and retail outlets which they cannot change.
Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.
As described = an item must do, or be made of the material(s), the advertisement or label states.
Of satisfactory quality = in a legal context this means goods must be in a state that you – or any other reasonable person – would think was acceptable.
Fit for purpose = an item must be able to fulfill the function it was intend for.
If goods you’ve bought don’t match up to this criteria, the retailer is in breach of contract and you have a claim under the Sale of Goods Act. UK consumers have a legal “right to reject” faulty goods and get a full refund if you return it to the place of purchase, within a reasonable time after purchase – usually three to four weeks.
Shops are under no obligation to take back goods that aren’t faulty, just because you’ve changed your mind. The exceptions to this are buying on the internet, mail order or financial agreements, when you usually have cancellation rights. Many high street shops however, offer returns policies allowing you to take back whatever you want within a set period of time (generally 28 days) and receive a refund, credit note or exchange.
When it comes to returning gifts that are unsuitable, the rules change again. Remember the contract we mentioned earlier? This is between the buyer (whoever paid for the goods) and the seller. If you pass on the goods and the recipient chooses to return it, they technically have no rights. Again, many stores are lenient to this and offer gift receipts on the run up to Christmas for exactly this purpose.
There are many other specifics and varying terms and conditions that apply when purchasing certain goods, and consumer rights in relation to services are different again.
If you feel you have been mistreated or had your statutory rights denied and need some legal advice then please speak to Vijay Srivastava or Shalish Mehta, our civil litigation specialists. Please call us on 0161 785 3534.
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