The Returns Season Returns

Featured in the January 2011 handbook.

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Itís that time of year again! but after all the presents have been unwrapped, and the party seasons draws to a close, sometimes some of us are left in a quandary. What to do if the gift is really unwanted? Even worse, what should you do if itís faulty or doesnít work at all? The answers to these questions are useful to know whether youíre the giver or receiver of such items.

The Sale of Goods Act states that any goods sold must be of satisfactory quality, be as described and be fit for purpose (e.g. a diving watch must be waterproof). If something you have bought is defective or faulty the seller must offer you either a free repair, a replacement or a credit note. However, you donít have to accept any of these and you can insist on getting your money back. You may even be able to claim compensation if the fault has caused damage to other things, e.g. if a washing machine damages clothes.

More of us are shopping via the internet, mail order or by telephone nowadays, especially at Christmas when time is short and streets are crowded. This is known as ĎDistance Sellingí and there are now regulations which cover this too. Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2002 you must receive confirmation of your order via email or in writing. Before the contract is finalised, you must be told the name and address of the supplier, the price of the goods and the arrangements for payment. The situation regarding faulty goods is the same as those from shops.

At Christmas, it is more likely, however, that we might receive unwanted presents rather than faulty ones. What to do then poses more of a question since you may not want to offend the giver of the gift. It is possibly a matter of scale. Personally, gifts such as toiletries with scents I feel more suited to a great aunt than myself, I give to a tombola .

If youíre tempted by the January Sales, then the same principles apply. If something is faulty you still have the right to return it. The only exception is where goods are marked down due to slight defects or being shop soiled and where this is pointed out at the time, such as on a sign, on a label or by the shop assistant.


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