Yes you can get a refund

Unwanted gifts? You do have rights, even online, says Paul Lewis

Group of Christmas gifts in front of tree.

New year is a time for sending unwanted or faulty presents back for a refund. The deadlines apply from the date of purchase (or arrival, in the case of online  0rders), not the date you were given them. So if your relatives shopped early, there may not be much time left.


For things bought online or on the phone, there is an absolute right to cancel the deal within 14 days and then return the item for a full refund within another 14 days – except perishable and bespoke items. You don’t need to give a reason. Nowadays many firms are offering even longer to return things. Some will pay postage and just ask you to package it up safely and return it using a prepaid label.  They can only make you pay postage if they make that clear when you buy. Always get a free receipt of posting from the post office.

If something is faulty, does not do what it should, goes wrong or is not as it was described, then in the first 30 days you should always get a full refund from the retailer. Up to six months after purchase, your rights are to a refund, replacement or repair. Always press for a refund. Nowadays most things you buy should last six months at least. After six months, you need to show the item was faulty from the start or that it should last longer than six months. You should still get a free
repair or replacement. These rules  apply equally to goods in sales. It is the retailer who is responsible (and must pay postage), not the manufacturer or the deliverer. And especially not you or how you used it.

You don’t need a receipt if you have proof of purchase – a credit card or bank statement is enough. If the retailer is difficult, ask for the manager. If that fails, then get the complaint fast-tracked by emailing the top boss – get the address at Be polite, firm, and remember: you are the customer and you have rights!

How to Complain by Helen Dewdney, updated 2019, is £15 (a lot cheaper in many places). If you only use it once, it will pay for itself!


Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4