Returning that unsuitable Christmas gift you received


In most countries, Christmas gift-giving is over so now the serious part begins. It is time to return those presents you think are unsuitable.

Now, the problem you are most likely to face is that recipients of gifts are rarely given either the receipt or even the bag it came in, so you need to find out where the giver bought it – and to do so without causing offence can be tricky.

Of course, established store brand names, such as St Michael’s (Marks & Spencer), George (Asda) or Florence & Fred (Tesco), are a real giveaway but, without those, some detective work will be required.

Anyway, having identified the store, you now face the task of returning the item – something that is a lot easier with a receipt. Now, some retailers these days offer the buyer a gift receipt that he or she can include with the present without letting the recipient know how much was spent. Using that gift receipt, you can return the item within the store’s returns policy.

And that policy is important because, unless you are taking the gift back because it is faulty, the returns policy will be in effect.

In fact, under UK law and I suspect those of other nations too, consumers have no right to return unwanted presents but most retailers’ returns policies do allow this as an extra benefit for a limited time after the Christmas holiday.

If you do not have any sort of receipt, some stores will still let you return the goods but only at the current selling price – and this could be much less than they were bought for if they are now in the sale. Also, if you don’t have a receipt, you will only be given a credit note to spend in that store, not cash. Meanwhile, be warned, some other stores will not allow you to have any form of refund or exchange if you cannot provide a receipt.

Be assured, though, that returns policies give extra benefits to customers than those provided by law; the legal protects of consumer rights in respect of faulty goods is not diminished or affected in any negative way.

So, if you want to return an unsuitable gift that is not faulty, you need to establish where it was bought and, if possible, get your hands on the receipt before going to the store. Remember, without a receipt, the best you can expect will be a credit note or an exchange.


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