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30th December 2019

Post Christmas - Top tips for returning online purchases

The Consumer Council has compiled a list of top tips to ensure consumers’ online purchases are returned safely and on time.

Kellin McCloskey, Head of Postal Services at The Consumer Council, said: “Many consumers will have bought Christmas gifts online this year. Unfortunately, gifts will sometimes be unsuitable when they arrive and need to be returned. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of top tips to ensure that consumers are protected when returning their online purchases.”

  • Return on time – If you want to send an online purchase back, you must return the items within 14 days of it being delivered to you.
  • Get proof of posting – If you are using a pre-paid postage label supplied by the retailer, it is important to retain a proof of posting.
  • Check the cost – In some instances, you may have to cover the cost of returning the goods to the retailer. Make sure that you always check the terms and conditions.
  • Read our guide – If you have to pay for return postage, consider how you might save time and money by using our ‘Sending Letters and Parcels’ guide.
  • Finding a local shop to send your parcels – The Consumer Council recently launched ParcelPal NI. Find your nearest local shop where you can send parcels and collect online shopping.
  • Ensure you have the right postal product and insurance – If sending valuable or time-sensitive items, choose the right delivery service and level of insurance cover to meet your needs.

To learn more about your consumer rights you can contact The Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022, or download our ‘Sending Letters and Parcels’ and ‘Making a Postal Complaint’ postal guides. You can also request a copy by emailing

Be sure to visit to help you to find the most convenient location to send your parcels items.