Returning Goods – Your rights

Consumer Rights Returning Goods/ items

If you have faulty goods that you need to return then the two most important pieces of legislation that you should know about are the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 and the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

Both of these consumer rights bills cover the return of goods if the item turns out to be faulty when they are bought online or from a shop or store. As part of your consumer rights faulty goods out of warranty are covered by the Consumer Rights Act as well.

Search for a Company to begin a Claim

It is not a guaranteed right of yours to return an unwanted item of yours and get a full refund. That depends on the returns policy of the store from which you have bought the goods or product, but the retailer must adhere to their return policy no matter what.

Buying Online
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, you have consumer returns rights if your item was purchased online, by mail order or even over the phone.

This piece of legislation means that you have a cancellation period starts from the instant that you have placed your order and lasts until 14 days after the day when you received your item.

From then, once you notify the retailer is telling them that you would like to cancel your order, you then have another 14 days to return the goods to them.

Returning Faulty Goods
Your consumer rights for returning goods and consumer rights for faulty goods out of warranty come under the Consumer Rights Act. What this act does is give you the statutory right to get your money back for something if the item is faulty.

It is your legal right to a full refund if you return your faulty goods or items within 30 days of buying it. It is important to know that this is absolute and does not depend on the return policy of the store.

If you keep the goods or item after the initial 30 day period, then you will have to give the retailer the opportunity to make a repair or replacement. An instance where this might happen is if you find something wrong with your goods a couple of months after purchase. If the retailer is unsuccessful in getting your item repaired or replaced, then you are entitled to ask for a refund.

If your faulty goods were purchased more than six months ago, then it is up to you to prove that there was a problem with them at the time of purchase.

This is tricky as the Consumer Rights Act does not state explicitly how you can do this, but it is usually done with photographic evidence.

If your goods or item was bought before the 1st October 2015, then the Consumer Rights Act is not relevant to you. This is because it was implemented on that date. Your consumer rights for anything purchased before them would fall under the Sale of Goods Act of 1979 or the Supply of Goods and Services Act of 1982 if it were a service.

Another critical factor is that digital content was not covered separately and was treated as either a good or service before this time. Downloaded music, for instance, would count as a service whereas a DVD player would class as a good.

Store returns policy
As stated before, if a shop or store has a returns policy then it has to stick by it. However high street shops do not have to accept returns on items which are not faulty. This is important when buying close that are the wrong size as you have no legal right for return or exchange in this case because
this does not fall under returns policy law. Most shops do however have a limit for non-faulty returns which is typically 30 days.

The majority of retailers choose to have a returns policy that offers either an exchange, credit note or full refund for most returns. Goods that are not faulty can only be returned for an exchange or refund if the retailer has a returns policy though.

The returns policies of stores are typically on receipts, in-store or online and it is easy to ring customer services to find out their returns policy if you are still struggling for information. The majority of retailers have a 28 day or 30 days limit for returning items that are non-faulty however they are instances where this is extended such as for Christmas.

Two key things to remember are that if you paid by credit card, then you will have extra protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. The second is that if you are returning an item that was purchased online, then you have additional consumer rights returning goods bought online under the

Consumer Contracts Regulations.
What do I do if my item cannot be returned? In the majority of cases, retailers will have policies which state that they will accept returns for non-faulty returns providing that the items have not been used and are still in perfect conditions. However, there are a few exceptions to this.

The first exception is with computer software, video games or electrical goods. Items like these may be refused for return by the retailer if the packaging on them has been broken even if the contents inside have not been touched or damaged.

Another typical example is perishable items like fresh food or flowers. Retailers will generally not allow any returns on these items. Finally, if an item has been personalised or made to order then, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to return it. It is always good to check the returns policy just in case.

What will I need to return something?
Retailers will require that you have a few things when returning an item that is faulty. The first is a receipt, and if you are buying a gift for someone else, then you should ask the store for a gift receipt so they can go in themselves and return the goods if they wish to.

The second is the card that you paid with. Whether this is on a credit card or debit card, you should take it with you when an item is faulty, and you are returning it if the item turns out to be faulty then the refund will be credited to the card that you paid with initially. Finally, it is vital that you return the item in the original packaging.

Some retailers may only exchange or give you a credit note depending on their returns policy law; however, others may give you a full refund. It all depends on the retailer and their returns policy.

Can I get a refund with no receipt?
The retailer has no legal obligation to accept returns and give you a full refund if you change your mind on something that you bought and you return it with no receipt. This not always set in stone though and there have been instances where retailers have offered an exchange or credit note so it is still worth asking the question.

You still have the right to repair or replace your goods if they are faulty and you do not have a receipt courtesy of the Consumer Rights Act. What you will need to do is to show proof of payment, which can usually be done with a bank statement.

Do I have to accept a credit note?
Again, the Consumer Rights Act states as part of your consumer rights if a product turns out to be faulty then the seller cannot refuse a full refund. Their returns policy cannot require that customers accept vouchers or credit note when an item that they have sold has been returned because it is faulty. Credit notes or vouchers can only apply for when an item is being returned because it is no longer wanted, not because it is damaged or faulty.

Consumer Contracts Regulations
Because of the Consumer Contracts Regulations of 2013, in the majority of cases when buying online, by mail order or from home, you have the right to cancel your order and get a refund. This can even be if you have just changed your mind.

The Consumer Contracts Regulations apply for goods and services of an unlimited value which have been ordered from a business in the European Union online, by mail order or by phone. Your consumer rights also apply if you bought something away from a normal seller’s premises for more than £42. This is typically at your place of work or home.

How much time do I get to cancel?
This depends on whether you are buying goods or services. If you are buying goods, then you have 14 calendar days from the day when you received them. As stated previously, once you have cancelled an order, you then have a further 14 days to send the item or goods back.

For digital content and services, this is also 14 days from when the order was made. However, if you want to start service within those 14 days, you will likely have been asked to give your agreement in writing meaning that you will be unable to cancel. You are still able to get a full refund minus the cost of any part of that service which you have already used. If you were not told about your cancellation rights in writing, then you have as long as a year and 14 days to cancel the contract.

Do I have to pay for delivery?
If you are entitled to a full refund then as part of your consumer rights for returning goods, the seller must pay you back within 14 days of either receiving the faulty goods, or 14 days after being told that you wanted to cancel the digital contract or service.

If you choose one of the more expensive delivery options, then you will need to cover the difference between that and the cheapest. Therefore you should always select the least expensive delivery option.

You would not be asked to pay for return delivery if the goods turned out to be faulty and also if the retailer or seller did not state this in their terms and conditions.

If you have still been unable to get a refund for an item that is faulty, then there are more steps that you can take. If your complaint has not been resolved, then one option is to bring matters to the Small Claims Court as you could take legal action for as much as £10,000.

Related Information

Narrow down your search by choosing one of the sub-categories below:

Get instant access to a barrister

If you already decided to take it further you might want to contact a barrister, if that's the case you can get contact details of one from here:

Access 2 Barristers Direct

Quick Complaint Form

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, png, pdf, docx.

    All companies in this category
    Click here to view all