Some of the issues I experienced with deliveries and returning goods to retailers during the pandemic have made me uneasy about ordering Christmas gifts. I don’t always understand my rights on sending items back. Can you help?

Understanding our rights is important when shopping, especially during the festive season.

Returning an Unwanted Item 

It is important to understand that returns and refunds policies can vary from one retailer to another. This can affect what you will need to do to have your purchase refunded if required.

Individual retailers have their own policies in place, with many opting to process returns as goodwill. Unless a product is faulty, a retailer is not required to give a full refund for goods that are unwanted, or if you change your mind.

The retailer may offer store credit, or a voucher as an offer of goodwill, and will usually have their own policies in relation to this. A retailer is not legally required to have a policy in place, but if they do, they must follow it. Retailer returns policies can usually be found on their websites, in store, or by checking the receipts supplied at the point of sale.

If you are purchasing items and expect you may have to send them back, for example different sized items to try them on at home, you should check the policy of the retailer in question prior to making a purchase to avoid disappointment.

Returning Items Online

For most online returns, Consumer Contract Regulations state that you can cancel an online order up to 14 days after receiving it, followed by a 14-day period within which to send your items back.

The simplest way to navigate these policies is to check with the retailer to find out how, when, and where your item should be returned. Some merchants will ship your order with a form already included, but if this is not the case, a visit to the retailer’s website should help you figure out your next steps.

Faulty or Damaged Items

If you have purchased an item that turns out to be faulty or damaged, your consumer rights entitle you to a full refund within 30 days.

If your return exceeds the 30-day threshold, then you are no longer covered by the ‘short-term right to reject’ and may only be entitled to a repair, replacement, or partial-refund of your item.

If you find your item faulty within 6 months of purchase, it is assumed that the fault was present at the time you bought the item, then the retailer is obligated to replace, repair, or refund the item.

If you find fault in an item after 6 months of purchase, you will need to prove that the fault was there at the time of purchase.

Otherwise, the retailer is not obligated to fulfill the return. Again, this can vary, so double-checking the policy of the retailer in relation to faulty goods is worthwhile.

Returning Digital Content or Data

The rules on digital products, such as software and games downloads differ slightly, with more information available in our Knowledge Centre.

Countdown to Christmas

Advice Direct Scotland are running our ‘Countdown to Christmas’ campaign in the lead up to Christmas.

The campaign offers Scottish consumers hints and tips for the festive season, to help ensure we are all making the most of our money and can avoid being caught out. You can follow the campaign through our social media channels.

I hope this helps.

Remember to follow our top tips for navigating returns and refunds this Festive Season:

  • Know your rights! – The Consumer Rights Act (2015) entitles you to a full refund of faulty items within 30 days of purchase. Some retailers may have a different timescale – always check!
  • Online purchases have slightly different rules –Online purchases can be cancelled up to 14 days after ordering, with a further 14 days to send the item back to the retailer for a full refund or exchange.
  • Faulty goods timescales –Faulty items returned within 6 months of purchase are covered for repair or replacement with most retailers. After 6 months, the retailer is not obligated to fulfil the repair/replacement unless you can prove that the item was faulty when you purchased it.
  • Rules on digital products differ – You do not have the same rights to refunds for digital goods, but you are entitled to a repair, replacement, price reduction, or compensation if the item is faulty or causes damage to your device.


If you have concerns about refunds or returns, or any other consumer matter, you can contact on 0808 164 6000. We are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

You can follow us on social media – Twitter: @advicedotscot and Facebook at, Instagram:, or get ahead by visiting our knowledge centre at

Please visit for our festive opening hours.