Everyone hopes to unwrap the perfect gift on Christmas Day, but sometimes a present can be the wrong size, shape, or simply not to your liking.
The good news is you are able to return unwanted items to stores, provided you can prove certain criteria.
How long do I have to return an item?
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, you are legally entitled to return goods that are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose, or not as described, and you have up to 30 days from the date you take ownership of the product.
While shops are not obligated to provide a full refund for goods purchased in store unless they are faulty, many retailers often still do - providing it is within the timeframe outlined in their returns policy.
After the 30 day period, you will not be legally entitled to a full refund and will have fewer rights, meaning you may only be able to ask for a repair, replacement or partial refund.
However, some stores may often extend their refund policy around the Christmas period.
For goods purchased online, under the Consumer Contracts Regulations you have 14 days after your order is received to notify the seller you want to return the item and claim a full refund.
After you have informed the seller you wish to cancel your order, you then have a further 14 days to send the goods back.
These rights only apply to the person who made the purchase, so if you wish to return a present the store may ask the original buyer to make the return.
What do I need to return an item?
All retailers will usually require the following items to approve the return of a product:
- A receipt - You will need your receipt for proof of purchase, so be sure to take it along with you. If the item was a present, you will need to take along the gift receipt
- The card you paid with - You will require the card that was used to buy the item in order to process the refund
- The original packaging - Always ensure you return the items as you received it in the original packaging
Returns policies differ across retailer, so while some may provide a full refund for an item, others may only offer an exchange or a credit voucher instead.
Which items can I return?
You are entitled to return items that don't meet the following criteria:
- Satisfactory quality - Goods should not be faulty or damaged when you receive them, and must be in a condition that is considered ‘reasonable’
- Fit for purpose - Goods should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for
- As described - Goods should measure up to the description given to you at the time of purchase
However, there are some exceptions which cannot be returned, including:
- Perishable items - Such as food and flowers
- DVDs, music and computer software - These products will likely be refused a refund if the packaging seal has been broken
- Made to order items - If a product has been personalised, it is unlikely you will be able to return it
Christmas returns policies
An extended returns period is available at these major retailers following the Christmas period, offering shoppers an additional window to bring back unwanted goods.
- Marks and Spencer - The extended Christmas returns policy is valid from 8 October 2018, allowing returns bought after this date to be made until 13 January 2019
- John Lewis - The retailer is accepting returns within 90 days of purchase for Christmas, unless the item is faulty. A refund will be provided if you have a receipt, while a gift card to the value of the product's current selling price will be offered if you have an order confirmation or delivery note
- Debenhams - The store is accepting returns with a gift receipt up until 28 January, or for exchange only without proof of purchase
- Next - Goods can be return up until 4 January 2019, unless they are Christmas decorations, in which case you have 15 days from the date of purchase or arrival to return
- New Look - Goods bought between 28 October and 24 December 2018 can be returned until 31 January 2019 with a receipt, but sale items can only be exchanged and not refunded. No exchanges or refunds will be processed on Boxing Day
- Topshop - Goods purchased between 1 October and 31 December 2018 may be returned up to 31 January 2019
- River Island - Goods purchased in the week before Christmas can be returned up until 14 January 2019
- ASOS - Orders made between 1 November and 24 December 2018 can be returned up to 31 January 2019
- Amazon - Goods which were dispatched between 1 November and 31 December 2018 can be returned up to 31 January
- H Samuel - Goods bought between 29 October and 24 December 2018 can be returned for a refund or exchange up to 26 January 2019
- HMV - Goods purchased throughout November and December 2018 can be exchanged up until 31 January 2019, although this excludes digital and games credit and subscriptions. Exchanges will be accepted from 26 December 2018 with proof of purchase
- Game - Goods can be returned for a full refund up to 31 January 2019 on any Christmas gift purchased between 1 November and 24 December 2018, providing you have the original invoice and credit or debit card