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Weird and wonderful returns of 2018: can you beat these?

What’s the most bizarre thing you’ve ever tried to return as faulty? You might not be able to compete with some of these items our readers shared…

What does a luxury SUV, a Christmas tree, a wedding dress and a pair of secondhand gloves have in common? They were all items people attempted to return as faulty.

Last year, tens of thousands of people used our free faulty goods returns tool to help write concise letters to retailers.

We helped people return:

    • ■ £1.8 million luxury SUV car that kept breaking down.

    • ■ A £50,000 endless pool because the current didn’t work.

    • ■ A £5,100 bespoke wedding dress which was filled with pins.

    • ■ A £16,000 lame horse.

    • ■ A £59 damaged Christmas tree.

    • ■ A £4,300 engagement ring which was damaged.

    • ■ A £1,500 ‘red thingy’ from a motorcycle shop which keeps ‘conking out’.

  • ■ A £6.99 pair of gloves from a charity shop.

Someone even tried to return a dog after the owner did a DNA test and found they’d been misled while buying their mutt.

Read more: what other items people tried to return

Your rights

As part of our research into faulty goods and returns, we asked more than 2,000 people about their experiences.

We found two in five people bought something in the last year which was either faulty when it arrived or developed a fault within the first six months.

If you buy something and the first time you use it within 30 days, you find it’s faulty the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) is pretty simple: the retailer must give you a full refund or, if you wish, replace it.

Between 30 days and 6 months after the purchase, you have to give the retailer a chance to repair or replace it before giving you a refund if that attempt doesn’t work.

Guide: how to return a faulty product.

Faulty goods

I’ve found this six-month window very helpful in the past, as often it’s not always apparent that your new possession has a fault.

I recently got a new tablet and after a few uses, found the battery just wasn’t holding it’s charge.

It took longer than 30 days for me to spot that it was faulty, but thanks to the CRA I was able to go back to the retailer and they quickly sent a replacement which works perfectly well.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the outcome of the returns and whether they were successful… personally, I’m most invested in what happened to the dog.

But we’d like to know if you’ve managed to return anything weird and wonderful? Or have you had a faulty product only for the retailer to dig their heels in and ignore your rights?


I cannot remember returning anything weird and wonderful. I have returned a book because it was not printed correctly, a couple of twisted lengths of wood that were sold as a multi-pack and a ballcock with an essential part missing – I had not realised that the pack had been opened and carefully resealed.

In her introduction, Amelia writes: “… personally, I’m most invested in what happened to the dog.” I’m sending that back, even though there is no guarantee. 🙂

I had a difficult time returning a coat that I'd bought online. The buttons started falling off two days after I bought it. So I contacted the seller and said I wanted to return it for a refund. They asked me to send them the coat to 'inspect' before they would 'return it to the manufacturer for a refund'. It was clear to me that this went against consumer law as I have a contract with the retailer, not the manufacturer. I explained this to them in multiple emails. It took about two weeks for them to finally relent and accept the return and offer me a refund. Amazing what some retailers (especially newer, online ones) think they can get away with! Don't like to think how often they get away with this behaviour with customers who don't know consumer law/aren't prepared for a long drawn out argument.

I’m my experience, some clothes shops can be quite reluctant to offer refunds. I do wonder if that might be to discourage the sort of folk that might want to wear the item only once and for free.

Otherwise, I find that most reputable shops readily give refunds. If a shop were to refuse a refund, I’d certainly think twice about ever shopping there again.

Agreed: I’m never shopping with that online retailer again!

I am really curious about what the red thingy could be!

I have to confess to being awful at returning clothes that don’t fit properly so I have stopped buying on line unless I have tried on in a shop.

John Edwards says:
18 September 2019

Not weird but I once claimed against a 10 year warranty on a Dunlopillo mattress at approximately 9 years and 8 months – from Gardiner Haskins in Bristol. The assistant looked up and down from me to the receipt about ten times before she finally said; “this is dated 10 years ago”. I produced the 10 year warranty label and she looked at that about ten times as well. I think she thought I was mad but she said she would put the claim through and see what happens? Nothing happened for quite a long time but then there was a knock at the door quite late one night and it was a couple of blokes in a van with a new mattress. They were from somewhere up North and had been delivering mattresses all over the South west all day. And they took the old one away.