Returning unsuitable Christmas purchases
Many people buy or are given presents at Christmas which, notwithstanding the old adage that “It is the thought that counts”, are basically unsuitable. But can you take them back and ask for a refund?
The answer is that retailers are not obliged by law to give you your money back if you simply don’t want the goods – they sold the items in good faith and it is not their fault that you don’t want them. However, many shops will refund or give credit notes to customers. Here are the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading’s top tips on returning unsuitable goods after Christmas:-
- Go back to the shop as soon as possible, but NOT on the day they start their “sale”!
- Do not remove labels if you think goods might be unsuitable and may have to be returned.
- Keep unsuitable goods safe and secure and preferably not in a smoky atmosphere.
- Take the receipt with you – most shops ask for this when unsuitable goods are being returned. If the goods were bought using a credit or store card the shop may wish to credit the card with the refund. If the goods were a gift you may have to ask the credit card holder to return the gift for you. Shops are unlikely to give you a full refund without a receipt for goods which they have subsequently put in a “sale”.
- Check the shop’s policy. If the shop says its policy is to offer exchanges or credit notes on unsuitable goods – this is reasonable.
- Remember shops do NOT have to give refunds on unsuitable goods unless this was agreed before the goods were bought.
- Being told you can bring goods back does not necessarily mean the shop will give a refund. It may just be offering an exchange or credit.
- Shops have different policies on unsuitable goods. Under the law shops do not have to make any offer at all when someone is returning unsuitable goods.
Remember though that this only applies to unsuitable items. You do have rights under the law if the items are not as described to you at the time of the sale (either on packaging or by the retailer), are not of satisfactory quality or are not fit to do the job they are meant to do.
You will find more information on your shopping rights on the Office’s website www.gov.im/oft or you can obtain advice from the Office by ‘phoning 686500.
Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading Bill Henderson MHK advises “People think that they have the right to take goods back which they don’t like or which do not fit them – this is not correct. Traders have every right to refuse to refund or exchange them. Most reputable traders are very consumer friendly though and will help out as far as they are able. Be fair and courteous when dealing with returns and you are much more likely to earn their co-operation.”