The busiest shopping day of the year ‘Black Friday ’is nearly upon us which will be followed by the busiest online shopping day of the year ‘Cyber Monday’. Many of us may be thinking about taking advantage of the discounts on offer perhaps with a view to purchasing Christmas gifts for friends and family.
There may be some amazing deals on offer but spare a thought for recipients who may not share your taste. If any of your purchases may need to be returned, it’s always wise to know your consumer rights.
Surprisingly, unless you make purchases online, high street shops are under no legal obligation to exchange or refund a purchase unless the following apply:
Therefore, if an item of clothing doesn’t fit properly or the recipient just doesn’t like it, there is no automatic right to return it. Many retailers do however operate a returns policy, which is independent of your statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, and generally, many high street shops go beyond their legal duty.
If a gift is faulty, not as described or not fit for purpose, you’re within your rights to take it back and ask for a full refund, within 30 days of purchase. The 30 days from Black Friday and Cyber Monday will have passed before Christmas, as such if you’re purchasing a gift make sure that you carry out a thorough check and make sure that it meets the requirements before the 30 days has passed.
It is important to remember that it’s the person who bought the item that has the contract with the seller, not the recipient of the item (if it was a gift). This means that only the person that entered the contract can exercise the consumer rights under the contract.
It is also a good idea, before buying the item, if it is for someone else, to ask the retailer for a gift receipt so that the recipient of the gift will be able to bring it back if they wish. Gift receipts tend to operate on the retailers own discretionary basis as opposed to being in place to reflect any statutory rights that you have. In short, the terms of the store policy will apply. Generally, gift receipts do not show the price of the item. If you weren’t given one with your gift, you’ll need to ask for the receipt from the person who bought it for you.
Some retailers have enhanced provisions in respect of returns, but these will be discretionary. It’s worth checking in advance of a Black Friday purchase intended as a Christmas gift to see if the retailer has a policy which may allow the gift recipient to exchange or return the gift after Christmas.
When a returns policy is offered by a high street retailer in respect of a purchase made in store, when there is nothing wrong with it but is unwanted by the gift recipient, the store may offer store credit rather than a cash refund. This is completely permissible, and the store is within their own rights to do this.
Remember, under the Consumer Rights Act (your statutory rights) if the gift is faulty or not fit for purpose the seller must provide a full refund if you have rejected the item within the first 30 days, following the purchase. Fortunately, many retailers extend their returns policy to help early Christmas shoppers.
Cyber Monday shopping is going to be an exclusive online shopping exercise. You have additional protection when making purchases online. Under the Consumer Contract Regulations, this allows 14 days from the date the item was delivered to cancel the order and return the item, even if it is just because you don’t like it. The retailer should refund you within 30 days of you cancelling the order.
It’s important to remember when shopping online, that under the Consumer Contract Regulations there are certain items that cannot be returned. CDs, DVDs and software (where the seal is broken), perishable items, like flowers and personalised goods are not covered. If you buy from the website of a company based in another EU state, you should have the same statutory rights as if you had bought from a UK seller. Although if you return the goods under the regulations you may have to pay for return delivery. If you have made any use of the goods before deciding to return them, the retailer may not provide a full refund if the use has in any way diminished the value of the goods.
As with returning all goods, always make sure that you retain the original packaging until you’re happy that you will keep the goods. For additional protection, it’s always advisable to make the purchase using a credit card, as this will automatically give you further options if you have to make a claim. In this case, you can potentially do so against the credit card company, should the item be faulty, not as described or not fit for purpose.
Finally, remember that when buying goods from a high street store or online, that your contract is with the retailer, not the manufacturer. The item may come with a manufactures guarantee, that will give you a 1 or 2 year guarantee, but this is always in addition to your statutory rights which are enforceable against the retailer and/or credit card, if a credit card is used and the value of the goods is between £100 and £30,000.
Be prepared by familiarising yourself with your legal rights. If you don’t get the satisfaction you feel your entitled to when making purchases on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, we can help you with this, please get in touch.