Nikki McConnell of Worthingtons Solicitors Belfast advises on what we can do with unwanted Christmas gifts.
Sadly we don’t all receive Christmas presents that we like or need.
The bad news is that shops have no legal obligation to accept returned gifts, unless they are faulty, of unsatisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or otherwise fall within the terms of theSale of Goods Act (1979) as amended.
Most shops and retailers however will accept returned goods as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ and may offer an exchange, a credit note or sometimes a refund. This will usually only apply to goods which are unused and in their original packaging however. The returns policy will often be displayed on a sign in or around the checkout, or on the back of your receipt. Returns policy details are also often included on retailer’s websites and you may also contact customer services for details of same. If such a policy exists, the shop must adhere to it’s terms and conditions. Returns policies will include a time limit for the return of items, such as 28 days, and some retailers have special rules which apply around Christmas, allowing for extra time to return goods.
Perishable goods, such as food and flowers, are likely to be excluded, as are CDs, DVDs and software if no longer in their original sealed packaging. Some retailers also exclude earrings, cosmetics, perfumes, and items of clothing that come into close contact with the body, for hygiene reasons.
As your rights will vary from shop to shop, it is always best to check out the terms and conditions which apply to the particular retailer you wish to return the item to. Even if it does not appear that you are entitled to a refund or credit note/exchange, it may be worth asking the manager to use his or her discretion – good luck!
Nikki McConnell is a Partner with Worthingtons Solicitors and is head of the Litigation department in our Newtownards offices. Nikki has considerable experience of representing both Plaintiffs and Defendants in a wide variety of litigous matters, including Public and Employers Liability cases, Road Traffic Accidents and Medical Negligence actions.
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