The web MoneySaving Expert, Martin Lewis has published his 10 top tips for knowing your shopping rights this Christmas. You can read and print them in full here.
1. You've NO rights if you change your mind. If you buy IN-STORE and it's the wrong colour or size, or little Johnny turns his nose up, you have NO legal right to a refund, exchange or credit note.
2. Buy online or by phone and you've more rights. Here the Distance Selling Regulations mean you can change your mind, as you've a right to return goods within seven days for a refund even if not faulty (not personalised goods, see allowed returns list).
3. If it's faulty you always have a right to return. If you buy faulty goods or services, whether in-store, online or even if in a sale or with a voucher, take them back quickly and you've full refund rights.
4. Learn your SAD FART rights. To add weight to complaints learn the definition of 'faulty'. To help you remember, all goods must be ...
Satisfactory quality, As Described, Fit for purpose And last a Reasonable length of Time
If not, they're faulty. It's also worth knowing and quoting the Sale of Goods Act 1979, or for services, the Supply of Goods & Services Act 1982.
5. Your rights are with the store, not manufacturer. Don't be fobbed off. With faulty goods, if the shop says "send it to the manufacturer", that's nonsense. Legally, your relationship is with it and it must sort it out, so stick to your guns.
6. If it's not faulty, then what it says goes. You often hear: "It wouldn't let me change the colour without a receipt, but I had my bank statement as proof. What are my rights?" Sadly, you've none. Stores are going beyond the law just giving no-fault exchanges, so if they say a receipt's needed, it is. That's unless its published returns policy says different, in which case, as that's part of your contract, it's enforceable.
7. Write 'it's a gift' on the receipt (if it is). Legally, only the person who bought the gift has rights, so the recipient can't exchange. Many shops ignore this, but for safety, use a gift certificate or get the shop to write on its copy of the receipt and yours that it's a gift and who for. Rights are then transferred.
8. Receipts aren't necessary if goods are faulty. To return faulty goods, any legitimate proof of purchase, eg, bank statement, should be fine. Yet receipts are easiest (and usually required for no-fault returns) so try to keep them.
9. Buying on a credit card gives more protection. Pay on a credit card (not debit, cash or cheque) and if the goods cost over £100 the card company's jointly liable if anything goes wrong — valuable extra protection.
10. Return faulty goods at speed. These are the key timelines:
- Under about four weeks for a full refund. You're entitled to a full refund if you've not 'accepted' goods within a month. After, expect exchange or repair.
- Under six months & law favours you. Until then, the shop must prove goods weren't faulty when it sold 'em. After, you must prove they were faulty.
- Goods must last a reasonable time. A key 'fault' is not lasting long enough. As for what's reasonable: I'd say it's reasonable to expect a £1,000 TV to last 18 months, but not a 50p torch.
Those are your rights, but of course if a shop refuses, the problem's enforcing them.