Knowing what consumer protection you have can be a big help with getting your money back from unwanted items. We take a closer look at your legal rights to a refund.
When you buy anything, whether it is at your local supermarket or online, you are making an agreement to exchange money for an item, which should be sold as described.
If you find that what you have purchased is not "as described" then you have the right to a refund, this could include if:
The item is faulty
The item was not as described by the seller
If you buy an item in a shop or online and change your mind and want to return it then reading our guide on Your Refund Rights Explained will help you.
Here is a list of your legal rights which can support you with a refund:
This legislation replaces the Sale of Goods Act, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Supply of Goods and Services Act.
It sets out the following refund rights for consumers:
You have a specific time frame of 30 days to return faulty goods and receive a full refund
You are entitled to ask for a refund or price reduction after one failed attempt by the retailer to repair or replace a faulty item, or request another repair or price reduction at no extra cost
No deductions can be made from a refund within the first 6 months after purchase, except for motor vehicles
Refund rights for digital content that is not of a satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or as described by the seller
For full details of what the Consumer Rights Act 2015 covers, visit the GOV.UK website.
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 If you pay for your item using your credit card then you have rights to claim a refund from your credit card provider as well as the seller if something goes wrong.
This extra protection applies when you buy an item that costs between £100 and £30,000 and means if the seller goes bust or fails to deliver your item you can approach your credit card company to get your money back.
For more information, you can read our guide How Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act Protects Your Credit Card. Or for a full definition of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 visit the GOV.UK website .
The main principle behind this regulation is that you will have 14 days to cancel a product or service should its description turn out to be false or that you have been given insufficient details.
From June 2014, you will find two previous regulations merged into one to make part of The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, they are:
This regulation applied to all purchases made at a distance, meaning anything bought online, by postal order, over the phone or through a television shopping channel. It exercises your right to cancel a product if the information provided is false, and the cost of any replacement item or return will be at the seller's expense.
If you had been sold a product or service worth more than £42 at your home, workplace or another person's home, it is required for a list of information to be provided to you including your 14 day cancellation rights.
For full details on The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 you can visit the GOV.UK website.
Although not a scheme backed by law, the Chargeback Scheme is supported by most of the UKs banks and building societies and offer you refund support for small value items, such as those bought under £100, whether paid for by debit or credit card.
To find out more, read our guide on Chargeback Claims: How to Get Your Money Back.
To find out what protection you have when using your debit card for purchases you can read our guide Is Debit Card Protection the Same as for Credit Cards?
One thing you must not ever do is rely on every seller offering a 14-day money back guarantee. Make sure you find out the refund policy before making your purchase to see where you will stand if you have to return an item.
Some retailers will offer you a discretionary refund on a case-by-case basis, as long as your reason for wanting a refund doesn't conflict with their returns policy.
The key word to point out with this type of refund is 'discretionary', which means it's solely down to the discretion of the seller, and not a certainty offered to everyone.
No-one plans to get a refund when they buy something, but planning for one won't harm you. To help prepare yourself for a refund make sure you:
Inspect the item you are buying thoroughly before buying
Keep your receipt safe and secure
Ask for an explanation of the shops refund policy
If you do all three you will be in a great position to get a refund at the time you want it.
Plus, if you make purchases using your credit card then you will have the added protection from Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
You should never give out any personal details when seeking a refund unless it is explained to you what the company wish to do with your information.
If you are told that the information asked for is to provide evidence that the teller has conducted the refund correctly and not pocketed the money for themselves, then ask to see a manager as this is not a legal obligation.
You can visit the GOV.UK website to see your full rights under the data protection act.
Sometimes it's just not possible to get a refund.
If you are told that you cannot have a refund for a particular reason, ask the seller to provide you with a copy of their returns policy to make sure that they are not trying to fob you off.
To help you understand when a refund can't be given visit the GOV.UK website for a list of situations.
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