Post-Christmas guide to returning gifts and impulse buys

Buyer's remorse, begone!

Post-Christmas guide to returning gifts and impulse buys

Photocall file photo

As if heading back to work after the Christmas break wasn't stressful enough, some of you may be having regrets about spending too much money.

If you do have buyer's remorse or don't fancy keeping both juicers you got this Christmas, you can do something about it.

Consumer journalist for the Herald and Irish Independent, Sinead Ryan spoke to The Pat Kenny Show and gave her top tips for consumers looking to return unwanted Christmas gifts, and goods bought in the sales.

  • If you buy something during the sales - you still have all of the same consumer rights that you normally have.
  • When an item is faulty, damaged, or not as advertised then you are entitled to take it back to the shop where you bought it. Even if the item is now reduced, you are entitled to either a replacement, repairs - or a full refund equal to the amount that you paid - not the discounted price.
  • If something is not faulty and you just don't like it - then you are not automatically entitled to a refund. You are relying on the good will of the retailer to take the item back.
  • Some stores will have policies that say that they do not offer refunds on goods bought during sales. They are legally entitled to do this, and not required to offer refunds if the goods are not faulty or damaged.
  • Another way of off-loading unwanted gifts is to pass it on to someone else for their birthday - or to hang on to them until next Christmas. One word of warning: Keep a mental note of who has given you what - to avoid the original gifter realising that their gift has been re-gifted...

  • You don't always need your receipt - documents like credit card records can also be used as proof of purchase.
  • Sometimes you can return unused items without proof of purchase - but this is based on the goodwill of the retailer.
  • Shoppers who are given vouchers for Christmas can be slow to use them - in fact up to one third of gift vouchers go unused. 
  • If a retailer goes into liquidation while you have a valid gift card, you are at the bottom of the list of creditors looking to get their money back, and you are not guaranteed a refund. This might seem like an extreme scenario - but holders of HMV vouchers found themselves in this situation when the company got into financial difficulties in January 2013.
  • Shops can make their own rules on some issues regarding gift cards. Some will not let you use them to buy sale items - this is not illegal. You can contact the National Consumer Agency - it lists the terms and conditions of different store's vouchers on its website. 
  • Some retailers will start to reduce the value of a gift card if you don't use it within 12 months. This is called a 'maintenance fee.'