It’s unwanted gift returns season: everything you need to know about the process

The celebrity memoir you’ll never read, the tartan pajamas made with rough silver thread, and the cartoon socks that are an affront to your good taste – they’re frankly just taking up space now.

oh that it is now is no longer the season to be merry, you may be thinking of more mercenary questions such as how to convert unwanted Christmas gifts into something more desirable.

Here are a few points you should be aware of as you embark on the returns process.


As we all know, you can’t just go to a retailer with the item and demand your money – or rather the money your friend or relative spent. And the process can be a bit more complicated when the item was purchased online.

However, if your donor has been organized enough to provide a gift receipt, and the item was purchased at a physical store, you can take it back with the item – provided the item is still in fresh condition. and request an exchange or a gift card.

But be aware that you might have a limited time to do so (see below).

Without a gift receipt, you’re pretty much stuck with the item. Consider donating it to a charity store or donating it again next year but not to the person who gave it to you in the first place!


Keep in mind that your right to a gift card or exchange is not absolute and that in contract law the relevant transaction is that which took place between the buyer and the retail business, and not the transaction which took place when you received the item by friend or relative.

The Consumers Council of Northern Ireland points out that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the retailer can refuse to offer a refund, replacement, credit note or gift card if there is nothing wrong with the item, or if the consumer changes their mind.

You might think you deserve to be able to exchange the item, but offering a replacement, credit note, or gift card is a goodwill gesture on the part of the retailer and at their discretion.


But what about my statutory rights? And what does this sentence mean?

While you are not automatically entitled to an exchange or a gift receipt when there is nothing wrong with the item, your “legal rights” mean you can get a full refund if an item is defective. and that it is returned within 30 days of purchase. However, the original donor must be the person returning the item.

After 30 days, the retailer is entitled to a chance to repair or replace the defective item before a consumer can request a partial or full refund.

This rule protects you for up to six years, depending on the type of item and the price paid.


I know my friend who gave me the gift is pretty strapped for cash and bought me an extravagant gift on a whim. Can I return it to my friend to automatically get their money back?

It’s very selfless to want to return a gift because the giver couldn’t afford it in the first place.

But keeping the gift, or even donating it to charity, may be the best thing to do, as you might find that even the donor can’t get a refund on their own. Some department stores, like House of Fraser, no longer offer refunds to customers, and you can only get a gift card or exchange.

However, House of Fraser will reimburse if an item is faulty, although proof of purchase is required.

The best advice from the Consumers Council is to find out about a store’s refund policy before you buy, especially if it’s a gift.


Today is January 8th. Do I still have time to try my luck at returning the pajamas and getting a gift receipt instead?

Some retailers will often extend their return and refund policy during the Christmas period, but this is at the retailer’s discretion.

For example, Marks and Spencer says its Christmas return policy means items can be returned until January 9 if they were purchased between October 4 and December 4. But if they are purchased after December 4, its usual 35-day return policy period applies. This means the longer your donor was at the last minute to do their Christmas shopping in M&S, the more time you have to return the item. If it was purchased on Christmas Eve, you will theoretically have until January 28 to return it.


My brother gave me a hideous but expensive gift that he bought online. Can I exchange it for something else without telling him?

The beauty of receiving gifts from brick and mortar stores where you received a gift receipt is that you can return them without the knowledge of the donor.

You might need a little more daring if you want to get a gift card as an alternative to an online giveaway, unless you’re dealing with a really big retailer, like Next.

Many retailers, such as Next, will allow consumers to return items to the store after purchasing them online. But this is at the discretion of the retailer.

If the donor has opened the package sent to them by the online retailer, before wrapping your gift separately and giving it to you, you will need to tell the donor that you wish to return the gift.

For the majority of online retailers, returns should be processed in the retailer’s packaging and using the pre-printed returns label provided, or by uploading a label to the company’s website.

But it’s a little easier if the item has been marked as a gift by the online retailer and has been sent to you directly.

Amazon, the largest online retailer of all, has a special returns center for handling returns, with its own section for confidential gift returns.

This allows you to return items marked as a gift at the time of purchase. The type of refund or credit you receive depends on how the gift was purchased and how it is returned.

But gift recipients will not be eligible for instant exchanges or refunds. Amazon says that for the 2021 holiday season, most items purchased between November 1 and December 31 can be returned until January 31.

It is best if you have the Amazon order number given to your donor. But you can either ask the person giving the gift for the order number or contact Amazon customer service.

Amazon also says that the gift giver’s email address, package tracking ID, or giver’s phone number would also help it track the order.

You will need to create an Amazon account in order to process the return online and obtain a return label.

Once the returned item is received, the amount paid for the gift will be returned to you in the form of an Amazon Gift Certificate.


Will I be charged for returning the item?

Amazon says that if the return is not the result of an Amazon error, or if you are returning an item other than shoes, clothing, jewelry, or watches that have been sold or shipped by Amazon, the charges return will be deducted from your refunded gift certificate.

If you are returning a gift purchased from Next’s online store you will be charged £ 2 for the return if it is processed by Hermes courier or Royal Mail. But you can avoid the charge by returning it to a Next store.

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