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Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day Sale? The rules about returns

View profile for Michael Callaghan
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Shopping events are designed to whip us all into a frenzy. Many of us purchase goods at a substantial discount, but they might not be quite what we hoped for. Retailers will typically offer a return on goods which are unopened, unused or faulty. But what happens when these items aren’t faulty and we simply experience ‘buyer’s remorse’? In this article, we look at your rights as a consumer when you purchase online or in-store.

I bought something on Black Friday, can I return it?

Consumers have the right to return items if goods are faulty or they are not as described. It is important to note that the returns policies of retailers can only add to, but cannot restrict, these rights. As such, a seller does not have to refund you if you simply changed your mind, unless you made your purchase without seeing the item.

My item is faulty, does the seller have to give me a refund?

In most cases, if the item you purchased is faulty then the seller must offer you a refund. They may also offer to repair or replace the item, but you do not have to accept this. However, the seller can refuse to refund, replace, or repair your item where:

  • They have evidence that you knew the item was faulty when you purchased it
  • You have damaged the item by trying to repair it yourself

What if I purchased the wrong item, or the item is not suitable?

It is not widely known, but unless the retailer’s returns policy specifies that you can return an item, there is no obligation for them to accept such a return. For example, if you purchased an item of clothing without trying it on, the seller is not obliged to accept the return. There are exceptions to this, including when you place an order online or over the phone - known as distance selling.

Purchasing items online or over the phone

There are additional protections for consumers if they buy items online or over the phone. Sellers must offer you a refund if you inform them within 14 days of receiving your items that you wish to return the items - you do not have to provide them with a reason. After you have informed the seller, you must return the item within 14 days. The seller then has 14 days to refund you.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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