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What do you do with a broken Christmas present?

A broken robot

Have you ever tried to get a refund on a broken gift? From broken toys to electrical gadgets that fail to compute, there’s a lot that can go wrong before you’ve even opened the wrapping.

It’s Christmas morning and you’ve just been given a beautifully-wrapped present that happens to be the exact shape of the latest gadget you’re hoping to receive.

You eagerly open it up, and it looks perfect. Then you get it out of the box and realise the damn thing’s broken.

Has this ever happened to you? It might not have been a gadget. Glass or ceramic presents could have been smashed or chipped, CDs scratched or edible gifts may have gone mouldy.

So what do you do in this situation? Smile sweetly and pretend everything’s perfect in the hope that the shop will exchange it for you – or utter those dreaded words, ‘did you keep the receipt’?

It’s never nice thanking someone for a present and then pointing out a problem at the same time, but it’s probably better all round to be upfront and open, says Which? lawyer Espe Fuentes. If you are upfront then you’ve got the best chance of getting the gift exchanged. So before you bin those broken biscuits, follow her advice:

‘Broken gifts are classed as faulty and the purchaser has rights to take the item back and get a refund in certain cases – or a repair or replacement if not. If you’re buying presents for family and friends make sure you ask for and include a receipt – some shops even offer ‘gift receipts’ which hide the price.

‘Whether you’re the purchaser or the recipient you may be required to show that you’ve bought the item in that particular store, which is another reason to keep the receipt – a credit card bill will do as well.’

Have you ever had to try and get a refund on a faulty or broken gift? I’ve been lucky so far, but that won’t stop me keeping my receipts just in case my friend opens the scarf I bought them only to discover that it’s coming apart at the seams.


I’ve returned three items I received as presents to stores. Two were broken and were replaced – The third was a sweater I didn’t like. I took it back to Marks & Spencer who changed it without question. In no case was I asked for a receipt that I wouldn’t have had anyway..

Last year I was cursed with the faulty shark game! I bought three of them, one for my children and for two other friends. The idea was that you pressed the shark’s teeth and one of them would snap the mouth shut. They were good fun for around five minutes. Two of the games broke and I had to make the trip back into town to exchange them. I did get my money back but it was a bit of a pain having to take them back. I may stick with books this year…..