For grown ups Christmas is often more stressful than exciting. Aside from the hassle of actually deciding what presents to buy, you also have to deal with overcrowded stores and hugely incompetent seasonal staff making dealing with any returns or other issues a trying business.
Do yourself a favour this year and have a quick read through our guide to Christmas shopping before marching into battle...
Shop with a Credit Card
When shopping with a standard debit card, you have a little protection for purchases up to £100, should there be any problems. All major banks subscribe to the 'chargeback' scheme, which allows consumers to make a claim against the retailer via their own bank.
However, using a credit card gives you much more protection as a consumer. Aside from being covered by chargeback for purchases up to £100, higher value credit card purchases are also protected by 'section 75' of the Consumer Credit Act. In practice this means that any issues you have with a purchase costing from £100 - £30,000 you can claim the money back from your card provider.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 comes into action in October, and offers greater guidelines for consumers over the Sales of Goods Act 1979. Regardless, both stipulate that the retailer is responsible for providing goods that are fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality.
It's not uncommon for a retailer to sell an item, then when a fault occurs to try to redirect the customer to addressing the issue with the manufacturer. When buying anything, you should bear in mind that the retailer is responsible for the goods they sell for the first 6 months of the sales contract, and the onus is upon them to prove that the item was sold in perfect working order. For more info on the specifics see our guide 'Know Your Rights – The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (I)', and 'Know Your Rights - The Sale of Goods Act (1979)'
Shopping online is not only convenient, but offers you extra rights as a consumer. The main reason for this is that your decision may be based on a brief description or a photograph which may mislead you to make a purchase. For more information see our guide 'Know Your Rights – Online Shopping'
Returning Unwanted Gifts
Let's face it we all give as well as receive unwanted gifts just for the sake of giving. It may surprise you to find out that there's no right to return goods to a high street store if they're non-faulty.
Most stores however offer a returns policy out of goodwill. For more information see our guide 'Know Your Rights- Returning Unwanted Gifts'
Aren't real sales! Christmas is the busiest time of the year for retailers and for them to suggest that they're going to offer large discounts to customers before Christmas is just insulting. Don't be drawn in – or at least do your research on the current market cost of anything you're looking to buy.
Deliveries and Non-deliveries
Remember the goods are the responsibility of the retailer until they are in your possession. This means that if they've been left with a neighbour who denies accepting delivery etc, then it's the retailer's’ responsibility to re-supply the goods or a full refund.
For more information refer to our guide Know Your Rights – Problems with Deliveries.