Giving back this Christmas - Advice for returning unwanted gifts

in Post

Tis the season of giving but on occasions we may wish not to receive some gifts (e.g. itchy jumpers or pungent soap).

Philippa McKeown-Brown, Head of Consumer Empowerment and Protection at The Consumer Council, said: “Sometimes we are given a Christmas present, which either we already have, isn’t suitable or we simply won’t use. In these cases we are often left wondering what to do.  The Consumer Council has developed a checklist for those of us who may receive unwanted gifts.”

Returning unwanted gifts checklist:

  • Check the retailer’s refund policy. By law, a retailer doesn’t have to do anything if there’s nothing wrong with the item other than that you don’t want it, but many stores will offer gestures of goodwill such as an exchange or credit note.
  • If the item was bought by debit or credit card, and you haven’t been given a gift receipt, the cardholder will need to be present to enable the refund to go back on their card.
  • You will probably be asked for proof of purchase. The best way to do this is to have the receipt, or a gift receipt. However, if the item was bought by card then a bank statement will also act as proof. As above, the account holder will need to be present. 
  • Not all goods can be returned, for example DVDs and games which have had the seal broken or goods that have been personalised e.g. engraved with your name or perishable items like a food hamper.
  • If you receive a gift which is faulty, not fit for purpose or of unsatisfactory quality, you should contact the person who gave you the gift as they have 30 days to reject the item and return it for a refund.
  • If a fault appears after 30 days, you still have consumer rights. In fact, you have up to six years to complain if it’s reasonable to expect the gift item to last that long.
  • To find out more about your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 go to or telephone us for a factsheet on your rights as a consumer.

For further information, The Consumer Council has produced a ‘Returning Unwanted Gifts’ factsheet. This can downloaded at or to request a free copy call 0800 121 6022 or email You can also get in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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