Returning unwanted Christmas gifts

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

While Christmas is a time of giving, post-Christmas is when some consumers think about returning faulty or unwanted gifts.

Whether a retailer will accept a returned item could depend on your reason for returning it.

If a product is faulty or not fit for its intended purpose then the retailer is obliged under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) to offer you a remedy in the form of a repair, replacement or refund.

However, if it’s not the right colour for you, is the wrong size, or you got the same gift twice, then it is entirely up to the store’s own returns policy as to whether they will exchange it, or offer a refund or store credit.

It is reasonable for the store to want to see the receipt as proof of purchase, so consumers will need to get that from the person who gave them the gift. We recommend keeping the receipts for all Christmas purchases because, without a receipt, the consumer must rely on the retailer’s goodwill.

The store is more likely to agree if the gift is returned with its original packaging so we suggest that this is kept for a short time after Christmas. If the product is faulty, however, the lack of packaging should never be a reason for a retailer not offering the consumer a remedy.

Retailers are not allowed to mislead you about your ACL rights, including telling you to approach the manufacturer or importer of the product for help. The retailer must always deal with the problem when approached.

If you have received gift cards vouchers as Christmas presents, check the expiry date is clearly shown and remember you have at least three years to redeem it. Gift vouchers are like cash – if you lose it, you can’t claim it, so keep it in a secure place until you are ready to go shopping. If you buy a $40 item with your $50 voucher, the store is also not obliged to give you the change in cash, only in store credit.

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