I'm a shopping expert and here's what your rights are on returning Christmas presents

WHEN it comes to Xmas presents, many of us often want to utter the words of Elvis Presley’s track Return To Sender

It’s the time of the year when you may want to return a gift – so what are your rights? 

We spoke to Helen Dewdney, 52, a consumer champion who runs www.thecomplainingcow.co.uk – for her advice. 


As someone who began fighting for consumer rights since the age of 11, Helen says you need to ensure your grievance is valid before you start trying to process a return.

“If there is nothing wrong with the item other than you just don't like it, the store is under no legal obligation to refund or exchange it with or without proof of postage, but some will. 

“Usually many of the big stores you’ll find will prove easier to deal with.”



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“Act quickly,” says Helen, who advises shoppers that timing is everything – so you can’t hang around. 

“Shops often extend time frame for returns at Christmas if they accept them, so check the store’s terms and conditions. 

“That is standard practice so don’t go in moaning and complaining if a certain time has passed as you don’t really have a leg to stand on.”

She adds: “If the store takes back items without proof of postage, you will be given the price that the item is at that time, so if in the sale that’s the price you will get.

Previously The Sun has highlighted who the best and worst retailers are for returning items. But if you don’t check then you could get caught out. 


Make sure you know your rights if the item doesn’t work.

“If the item is faulty, not of satisfactory quality, didn't match the description or last a reasonable length of time, it is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015,” says Helen.

“So as long as you have proof of purchase you are entitled to a refund, repair or replacement of the product depending on when the item was bought. 

“If 30 days from purchase, you are entitled to a full refund after this time if you don’t want a repair or replacement.”


Keep any receipts that you are given. For your gifts, either include the gift receipt with your present or keep them all in a safe place. 

It might be awkward to ask for the receipt if you need to return an item – but that’s better than it sitting unused in a cupboard or worse still, in the bin. 

Check the individual policy of the shop where the item was bought. They may give you store credit, a voucher or exchange. 

“If the giver has given you a gift receipt with the present, it should mean that the store will give you a refund, but again it is likely to be in the form of a gift card.

“As the store is under no legal obligation to give you a refund for non-faulty items it is likely you will be given a gift card if anything.”

If you want a refund – then you may have to ask the person who bought it for you to take it back to the shops. 


As aggravating as it is to get an annoying Christmas gift, Helen says you must always remember to be polite, not just to the giver of course, but the shop assistant you are dealing with. 

“The shopkeeper is more likely to respond positively if you are polite. Never swear! Be rude and they can understandably refuse to deal with you.”

In fact, Helen says one of the questions she gets asked all the time is how to get through to someone who will deal with the issue after they have been fobbed off or been sent from pillar to post. 

“You can go to ceoemail.com and get the address of any CEO,” she says. “Very few write back personally, although some do, but it does get the matter escalated and some ownership of the issue.”

“Always point out what a good customer you are and how you have found the company to be really good in the past,” says Helen. “This shows that you are a frequent customer so they are less likely to risk losing you.” 

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