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I've been given a horrendous gift? Can I return it? Here are your consumer rights...

Changed your mind? Got a horrible jumper? Or is something simply broken?

EVERY CHRISTMAS AND New Year, the shops are filled to the brim with shoppers buying presents or cashing in on the discount sales.

Inevitably though, something can go wrong. Perhaps your granny gave you another horrendous jumper and you’d like to exchange it, or maybe you bought a new coffee machine and when you took it out of the box it wasn’t working?

So, what are your consumer rights? Let’s take a look.

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Aunt Julie has bought be a hideous jumper. Can I return it?

The Consumer help website, run by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, said some shops may exchange an item if you received it as a gift and want to exchange it for something else. However, there is no legal requirement for shops to exchange unwanted gifts. But if they do allow it, you will need the receipt or a gift receipt from the person who gave it to you. So, best tell Aunt Julie to just give you money this year.

I have bought a sequinned jump suit for a New Year’s Eve party. But when I got home and tried it on I look like a sparkly whale. Can I bring it back and exchange it?

This is much like the unwanted gift. If you change your mind about something you bought in a shop, you do not have any rights under consumer law. Some shops do accept returns in exchange for another item in the store, but again, this is just the shop’s policy and there is no requirement under the law for them to do so.

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I bought a laptop, but it is broken. It is under warranty as far as I know. What should I do?

If you have paid out good money on something and it doesn’t work as it should, it is not your fault.

The National Consumer Agency states:

Remember, when you buy something, no matter how big or small it is, you enter into a contract/legal agreement with the seller. Your rights don’t change just because you bought the item in a sale. But you don’t have a right to return something if the fault with it was pointed out to you before you bought it.

It states you should move quickly, but you have a few options.

You are entitled to reject the item and demand a refund from the seller. You could ask for the goods to be repaired or replaced FREE of charge. This is the case if the fault occurs within the first 6 months of owning the item.

The Consumer Agency says that you may also have extra protection if you have a guarantee or warranty from the manufacturer. Sometimes this extends to one year after purchase.

Sometimes retailers tell customers that it is not their responsibility. The Consumer Agency said that it is the retailer’s responsibility to provide a remedy under the warranty, unless they have opted out of this and told you this. So you should check the terms and conditions of the warranty.

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The shop says they don’t do refunds or exchanges?

The Consumer Agency said that shops that have “No Refunds” or “No Exchanges” do not limit your rights.

“Some shops display these notices, particularly during the sales, but this does not take away your rights under consumer protection law if the goods are faulty,” it said.

What about shopping in the sales?

You have the same rights you would any other time of year. The shop doesn’t have to give you a refund or exchange if you simply change your mind, but it does have to sort out the issue if the item is faulty.

The Consumer Agency said that if an item you bought at full price is faulty, and is now on sale at a reduced price, you are entitled to a refund of the full price or a replacement of the same value, with proof of purchase.

If you buy something at full price but change your mind about it, and it is now on sale at a lower price, you may only be entitled to the reduced amount if the shop is willing to offer a refund. Any offer of a refund in this situation is at the discretion of the retailer and is a gesture of goodwill.

For more information log onto

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