What are your rights if your Christmas gifts are faulty?
You’ve purchased the perfect present. It’s been opened. But it’s faulty. It’s a far from ideal situation, but it’s not the end of the world – you’ve got options, and in this blog we cover them all.
Buying Christmas presents can be a minefield at the best of times, never mind worrying about spending your hard-earned money on faulty goods. Equally, telling someone the gift they’ve bought you isn’t right or doesn’t work can feel pretty awkward too.
Although we hope you don’t need any of the advice in this guide over the festive period, it’s a good idea to know your rights and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones should a gift go wrong.
Thanks to the Consumer Rights Act, retailers are responsible for providing satisfactory quality products that are fit for purpose and as described.
What this means for you is that if you’ve bought a gift that doesn’t meet these requirements, you have the right to a refund, repair or replacement.
So, what do you do?
The first thing to do is take quick action. Under the legislation, you only have 30 days to reject a faulty item and ask for your money back.
If for whatever reason, you miss the 30-day window, this doesn’t mean you have to accept the faulty item and cut your losses. Instead, in the first six months after purchase, you can ask for a free repair or replacement.
TIP: if you ask for an item to be repaired and the repair is unsuccessful, you’re then entitled to a refund.
What if I didn’t buy the item myself?
If the faulty item in question was a gift and you don’t have a gift receipt, getting a refund, repair or replacement can be trickier. This is because the purchase contract is between the retailer and the purchaser.
It’s still worth trying to go in-store though. Many retailers offer a ‘goodwill’ policy on returns around Christmas, and this might make it easier for you to sort out your faulty gift without going to the person who gave it to you.
Guarantees and warranties
Nearly all electrical items are now sold with a manufacturer’s guarantee or warranty. This typically lasts a year and exists as a contract between yourself (the owner of the product) and the manufacturer.
Usually, guarantees will offer to repair or replace any faulty items, and the manufacturer must do whatever it has said it will in the guarantee.
If a fault occurs with an electrical gift you’ve been given and you don’t have the receipt nor want to ask for it, your best option might be to pursue the guarantee.
Under Section 75, purchases on a credit card over the value of £100 are held jointly liable between the retailer and your credit provider, and this protection covers undelivered goods, faulty goods and even services - like flights.
This means if you’ve made a purchase on your credit card that hasn’t been successful (whether the item is faulty or was never delivered), you can claim the money back via your credit card provider.
There’s no time limit for claiming under Section 75 (although the statute of limitations in the UK is six years), meaning you’re not under the same time constraints as a normal refund.
Use your credit card for higher value purchases
Because of the added level of legal protection offered on purchases made on a credit card, doing your more expensive Christmas shopping (over £100) on your credit card would certainly be the savvy option.
Even if you’re not usually comfortable spending on credit, you could get home and pay your balance straight away and you’d still be covered under Section 75.
Do debit cards offer the same protection?
Unfortunately not. Debit card purchases are protected under something called ‘chargeback’.
Chargeback works in a similar way to Section 75 but the big difference is, that it isn’t a legal protection.
If you’ve made Christmas purchases on your debit card and they turn out to be faulty, you should be covered under chargeback – it’s worth noting the spending threshold to qualify for chargeback is much lower than Section 75 and starts at £10.
The timeframe in which you can make a chargeback claim is 120 days, and with faulty goods, this starts from the date you made the purchase.
To start a claim, contact your bank and ask to dispute the transaction in question.
Returning non-faulty items: what you need to know
If there’s nothing wrong with your gift but you simply don’t like it and you want to return it, whether you’ve got a receipt or not, you’ll only be able to do this if the store it was purchased from has a returns policy.
It can be a surprise to some people that a store isn’t actually obliged to have a returns policy. However, if it does have one, it must stick to it.
A store’s returns policy is usually shown on receipts, signs in store and on their website.
Most retailers impose a time limit on returning non-faulty products, so be sure to find out how long this is and take action in plenty of time. If for whatever reason, you miss the window, many stores extend their policies around the Christmas period, so don’t be afraid to try.
Things to remember
If you want to return an unwanted item, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
1. Where possible take the receipt
Taking the receipt with you will make your life so much easier because, without it, stores can simply refuse to do anything with your unwanted gift. Some retailers will offer you a gift card rather than a refund, but this might be of a lower value than the product you’re returning.
2. Some items cannot be returned
This includes DVDs, music and computer software (if the seal is broken), perishable goods (like groceries and flowers), and personalised, made to order items.
3. Keep the original packaging
Don’t underestimate the importance of taking an item's original packing with you when seeking a refund. Retailers vary, but some can be extremely particular about this.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.