Share this page:
Follow Choice on Social Media:
Get the most out of life
Your Money
and your rights

The best financial and legal advice
12 issues
for only 33.95
£
+ FREE 24 Hour Legal Helpline
Find out more

Money & Rights

What should you do with a faulty or unwanted Christmas present?

What should you do with a faulty or unwanted Christmas present? Is it too late to return it?

By Amanda Hamilton, CEO of NALP

Christmas may seem a bit if a distant memory already but we all remember how busy that time can be; visits with relatives and friends and a seemingly endless period of eating, drinking and exchanging gifts. It’s possible that you received a gift that was faulty or that you simply didn’t really like. Is it too late to return the item and get a refund? What are your rights as a consumer?

Most importantly, without a receipt there’s very little you can do! However, if you’re not shy in asking for a receipt, or the giver of your present has already offered you the opportunity to change the item if you don’t like it then it’s a different story.

Consider also that, with so many of us shopping online now, it’s not necessarily a question of taking something back to the shop with a receipt. What are your consumer rights in relation to items that have been bought online whether by yourself, or by someone else buying you a gift?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 became law on 1st October 2015. This statute was specifically introduced to simplify, strengthen and modernise the law, giving you clearer shopping rights. It replaces three previous statutes and includes rights in relation to items bought online and digital downloads.

Quality

Under the Consumer Rights Act all products must be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. These rules also include digital content in this definition. So, all products - whether physical or digital - must meet the following standards:

• As described. The goods supplied must match any description given to you, or any models or samples shown to you at the time of purchase.

• Fit for purpose. The goods should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for, as well as any specific purpose you made known to the retailer before you agreed to buy the goods.

• Satisfactory quality. Goods shouldn't be faulty or damaged when you receive them. You should ask what a reasonable person would consider satisfactory for the goods in question. For example, bargain-bucket products won’t be held to as high standards as luxury goods.

If your product doesn’t satisfy any one of the three criteria outlined above, you have a claim under the Consumer Rights Act against the retailer (seller) as opposed to the manufacturer.

What you can claim, depends on how much time has passed since you physically took ownership of the goods. You will need proof of purchase such as the receipt.

30-day right to reject

Under the Consumer Rights Act you have an absolute legal right to reject goods that are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described, and get a full refund - as long as you do this quickly within 30 days of taking ownership.

30 days plus: repair or replace

If you are outside the 30-day right to reject, you have to give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace any manufacturer. What you can claim, depends on how much time has passed since you physically took ownership of the goods. You will need proof of purchase such as the receipt.

If you are outside the 30-day right to reject, you have to give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace any goods or digital content which are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described.

If the attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, you can then claim a refund, or a price reduction if you wish to keep the product.

Within the first six months

If you discover the fault within the first six months of having the product, it is presumed to have been there since the time you took ownership of it - unless the retailer can prove otherwise.

If you'd prefer to keep the goods in question, you can request an appropriate price reduction.

Six months plus

If a fault develops after the first six months, the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time you took ownership of it. In practice, this may require some form of expert report, opinion or evidence of similar problems across the product range.

You have six years to take a claim to the small claims court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Digital content

The Consumer Rights Act defines digital content as ‘data which are produced and supplied in digital form.

Just like goods, digital content must be:

• as described by the seller

• fit for a particular purpose

• of satisfactory quality

If digital content does not conform to these criteria, you have the right to a repair or replacement of the digital content you've bought.

So effectively, the 2015 statute is a very useful piece of legislation to protect your consumer rights not only relating to purchased items but also in respect of the supply of services as well.

However, what happens if the item is not faulty, but you simply don’t like it? Can you get a refund or exchange it?

The majority of shops, both physical and online, will give you a period of time to get a refund in such circumstances. Some offer such a high level of customer service that they will give a refund on returned goods after a ‘reasonable’ period of time provided the returned item is as new and a receipt is produced. But beware, they do not have to legally do so outside of their specified deadline.

You may find that a retailer isn’t being very co-operative. In which case, it’s useful to mention that you ‘know your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015’. This should nudge them into compliance with the law, but if they are being extremely stubborn and you feel you need additional help then engaging a suitably qualified and licenced Paralegal can be a much cheaper option than using a solicitor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda Hamilton is Chief Executive of the National Association of Licenced Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit Membership Body and the only Paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). Through its training arm, NALP Training, trading as National Paralegal College, accredited recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered for a career as a paralegal professional. See: http://www.nationalparalegals.co.uk and https://www.nalptraining.co.uk/

Current Issue

February 2019

profile: Bob Dylan

Special: Choice Cruise Guide

Your Money and Your Rights

Win a forest break

Do you remember 1969?

City break bargains

Seniors and exercise

Keep your brain sharp

Women on the WW1 frontline

Avoid car repair rip-offs