/ Shopping

Don’t get stuck with unwanted items this Christmas

Woman shops online

Would you be surprised to hear you can’t legally get a refund on purchases if you’ve simply changed your mind about them? Millions of us are being refused refunds on unwanted items – don’t be one of them.

If you’re about to head out to the high street to start your Christmas shopping, or you’re ordering gifts online, you’d better check returns policies and keep receipts safe.

We’ve found 9.9 million Brits have tried to return an unwanted gift in the last two years, and seven million of you have experienced problems getting a refund.

So why have so many people found this so difficult? Well, around half of those who were refused a refund were told it was because they didn’t have the receipt, while 16% couldn’t get their money back as the shop didn’t allow refunds for unwanted goods.

This isn’t surprising, as almost half of you didn’t know that there’s no legal right to return something to a high street store simply because you’ve changed their mind. And only 18% of you always check returns policies before making purchases in shops.

Know your rights on refunds and returns

Here’s a few of my top tips when hitting the high street or shopping online for Christmas gifts, that might just mean you don’t get lumbered with presents you can’t return:

  • Check the returns policy: Any returns policy in a store can be as strict as the store wishes so it should be read carefully. Many shops will refund, exchange or give credit notes as a gesture of goodwill. Ask whether the policy is extended for Christmas purchases.
  • Keep the receipt: It’s always best to keep the receipt, but you can still try to return goods using any proof of purchase, including a bank statement or credit card bill.
  • Check who pays for P&P: When shopping online, the website’s terms and conditions should say who is responsible for paying postage to return unwanted goods. If they don’t say, they pay!
  • Not all goods are refundable: Many items (such as CDs, DVDs and computer games) can be refused a refund if they are no longer sealed.
  • Know your online rights: Most purchases made online, by post or by phone benefit from a ‘cooling-off period’ during which time you are free to cancel. This starts the minute you place the order and ends seven working days the day after receiving the goods.

Do you follow any of these steps when you’re shopping – or have you had a nightmare getting a refund on unwanted goods?


This story gave us today’s Guardian cartoon for “Ripped-off Britons”…