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What to do with faulty Christmas gifts

Consumer Direct: You are entitled to a refund if an item is not as described

29 December 2008. If you receive unwanted, inappropriate or ill-fitting presents this Christmas, you may think you are entitled to an exchange or a refund but this isn't an automatic right, advises Consumer Direct.

Legally, you are only entitled to a refund if an item is not as described, not fit for purpose or not of satisfactory quality. Normally, it is only the gift buyer who can enforce these rights.

However gift receivers may be able to do this as a 'third party' if they have a named gift receipt. If you have used a product for a period of time, you may lose the right to a full refund but may be entitled to a repair, replacement or a partial refund.

Some stores will offer returns policies which will allow you to exchange unwanted items, obtain a credit note or a refund, but these are not obligatory and shops can set their own terms and conditions. If you are asking for a refund or an exchange, you will normally be expected to provide a proof of purchase such as a receipt or a bank/ credit card statement.

Michele Shambrook, Operations Manager for Consumer Direct said: “You won't always be offered a cash refund for unwanted items but you may be able to request an exchange or a credit note. Some returns policies will impose a time limit on non-faulty returns so it's worth acting quickly. “

If you have bought items online you have additional consumer protections which in most cases give you a cooling off period of seven working days after delivery to cancel for any reason and get a full refund including original delivery costs. However, you may have to pay the cost of returning the item.

If you are tempted to sell unwanted items via classified ads or online auctions, you have a responsibility to accurately describe the goods being sold. Failure to do this may lead to a claim being made against you.

Further information and advice is available from Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or by visiting the website at http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk

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