I’m a shopping expert – the six phrases you need to know to get refunds on Christmas presents

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THE turkey has been eaten, the Christmas telly watched and the presents are unwrapped – and then disaster strikes.

There’s something wrong with a gift you’ve bought or received.


Lisa Webb, a consumer law expert at Which?, has shared her top tips

If you’ve found yourself in a pickle over presents, then it’s worth knowing your consumer rights.

Lisa Webb, a consumer law expert at Which?, explains the four key phrases you need to unlock refunds or get your issue fixed.

She points out shopping should be a level playing field, meaning if there is a problem you have the right to have it corrected. 

If an item you’ve bought turns out to be not all it’s cracked up to be you should be able to get your money back or get it replaced.

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What can you do if there’s something wrong with a present you’ve bought or received?

The first phrase you need to remember is – the Consumer Rights Act. It ensures any products you buy must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.

The rules apply to all products, whether physical items such as a car, or digital content like downloaded films, games or apps.

If what you’ve bought doesn’t satisfy any one of the three criteria, contact the retailer you bought the goods from, telling it about the problem and that you want to return it for a full refund.

In the first instance, write to the customer services department politely and objectively, so you have a written record as evidence.

Then escalate if you’re not happy with the response. If you’ve received a present that has an issue, then speak to the person who bought you the gift, they will need to complain.

Don’t you get extra rights for online purchases?

Lisa explains that most online purchases come with a 14-day “cooling off” period, giving the shopper the option of a full refund.

This is the second phrase you need to remember as online shoppers get extra rights.

This applies to most goods and services bought from UK websites.

However, don’t presume a ‘.co.uk’ domain means the company is UK-based – check the website’s terms and conditions if you’re unsure.

By contrast, high street shops are not obliged to offer a refund simply because someone changes their mind on a purchase or no longer wants it.

But if a shop has a “goodwill” returns policy, it must stick to it. This is the third phrase that is useful to shoppers.

Keep a proof of purchase as you’ll need it to return your unwanted gift. 

What’s the best way to complain if something is wrong with a purchase?

Your first step will be contacting the retailer to let them know what the problem is.

Social media can be a useful tool here as your issue will be seen by the public and the retailer. 

The retailer should rectify the issue as soon as possible but if they don’t, Which? has templates of letters that consumers can use to request repairs or replacements of damaged goods.

What other phrases are good to know when it comes to refunds?

If you used a debit card, you may be able to ask your bank to get your money back through the “chargeback scheme”. 

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For all credit card transactions over £100 (and under £30,000) you have rights under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. 

That means you can get a refund if an item doesn’t turn up or, for example, if the company goes bust.

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