Conor Pope: You don't have the rights you think to return unwanted gifts

Conor says people who shop locally have a much better way of getting recourse
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.16 4 Jan 2022

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Conor Pope: You don't have the...

Conor Pope: You don't have the rights you think to return unwanted gifts

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.16 4 Jan 2022

Share this article

That ugly jumper, those trousers that don't fit - it's time to think about returning unwanted Christmas presents.

But Conor Pope, Irish Times consumer affairs correspondent, says there is actually no obligation on retailers to do anything.

He told The Pat Kenny Show the right to return something is not as strong as we think.


"Nobody anywhere has the right to return a product, unless it's faulty or unless it's not fit for purpose or not as advertised.

"That's the law: so any retailer can say to you, if you bring back a product, 'I'm sorry I don't want to take that back'.

"Now a huge number of retailers are incredibly smart, and they will offer people exchanges and credit notes - because they know they're generating repeat business.

"But they're not under any legal obligation to do that".

Conor says it gets even more confusing if you don't have a receipt.

"You might say 'I got a jumper from Dunnes or a jumper from Marks & Spencer - so clearly when I bring it back, they're going to give me a return because it's obviously from Dunnes or Marks & Spencer because they're labelled like that'.

"And they might do that, but they're not under any obligation - which does make the whole notion of returning unwanted gifts trickier".

Online returns

And he says online returns actually have more protections.

"Under the law, if you buy something online, you've a much greater suite of rights than if you buy something in a shop.

"If you buy something online, you have 14 days after receiving the goods to return them for any reason.

"But if you've been given a gift, let's say on the 25th of December, by somebody who probably received that gift on the 20th of December... the 14 days have now elapsed.

"And there is no right to return - and it becomes doubly-complicated when you don't have the receipt or an invoice number."

He suggests if something is completely unsuitable, "you can either return them to a charity shop or you can pass them on as a recycled gift to somebody else".

But Conor believes nothing beats in-store, face-to-face shopping.

"When you're dealing face-to-face with a human being, it's much more easy to get a resolution.

"The retailer wants you to be happy, and they want you to be happy because you're going to come back to them.

"Similarly people who shop locally online in this country have a much better way of getting recourse.

"Let's say you bought your products online, but from a local shop, you can bring it in and say 'Listen it just doesn't fit - can you do anything for me?'"

And he appeals to people: "If you are returning something, you have to be really nice about it - because you're relying on the goodwill of the shop assistant or the shop owner to do something for you.

"So please... don't go into the shop like a bull in a china shop screaming down the place demanding your rights.

"When it comes to returning goods like that, if there's nothing wrong with them - if they just don't fit you or you just don't like them - you don't have the rights you think you might have".

Main image: A woman opening Christmas presents to discover she got an apron and some underwear. Picture by: RTimages / Alamy Stock Photo

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Christmas Presents Conor Pope Consumer Rights Online Returns Return Unwanted Gifts The Pat Kenny Show Unwanted Gifts

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