Shopping events are designed to whip us all into a frenzy. Many of us succumb to the temptation to purchase goods at a discounted price, but what are your rights if they turn out not to 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.
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. This is an increasingly common occurance with the popularity of online shopping.
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:
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”.
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. For all online purchases, this is known as the “cooling off period”. After you have informed the seller, you must return the item within 14 days. The seller then has 14 days to refund you.