Support your local high street this festive season – but make sure you know your rights as a consumer!
With the winter holidays upon us, Trading Standards have put together some seasonal top tips to help ensure that it will be a truly happy Christmas all round:
1. By law, all goods must be of satisfactory quality, as they were described and fit for their intended purpose. If not, provided you act quickly, you have the right to your money back or to ask for a replacement or a repair.
2. Remember that it is usually the purchaser of goods – and not the person who receives them as a gift – who has consumer rights if they turn out to be faulty. However, shops may agree to sign over these rights to the person receiving the gift – ask the shop if they will give a ‘gift receipt’.
3. Check goods to make sure they work properly and are not damaged before you wrap them. Keep packaging, instructions for use and any other information until you know that everything is all right.
4. Hang on to your receipts. Traders are entitled to ask for some proof of purchase if you return faulty goods and it can make life a lot easier if you can prove when and where you bought them and how much you paid.
5. Your rights are the same wherever you buy goods – from a high street shop, a market trader, a street trader with a suitcase or from a temporary bargain shop. However, your chances of returning goods diminish if there’s a possibility that traders may not be around after Christmas.
6. Goods bought in a sale should perform the same as if they were priced normally. Your rights are the same unless defects are brought to your attention before you buy or should have been obvious if you’d examined the goods.
7. Buy the right size and colour. If there’s nothing wrong with the item and you simply made a mistake or changed your mind, then you have NO legal rights. Some retailers do have goodwill policies allowing these returns, so ask before you buy and get them to write the details on the receipt.
8. Consider buying goods costing over £100 with a credit card – you may get extra protection from the card issuer.
9. Don’t make any spur-of-the-moment decisions to buy on credit. Compare APRs, consider the total cost involved and how long you’ll have to pay – you don’t want to still be paying for this year’s gifts next Christmas.
10. Watch out for fake goods. Be suspicious of cheap discs and tapes or designer clothes and perfumes. Your loved one won’t thank you if their gift smells more like Canal No. 5 or if that DVD turns out to be a DUD!
If you need civil advice on how to deal with a complaint or enquiry, please contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues.
You can also use the internet to contact the Citizens Advice consumer service. Please visit www.adviceguide.org.uk where a wide range of consumer information and advice is available.