Don't forget: check the shop's returns policy before you buy
Q Maureen contacted Smart Consumer with a question that often comes up.
She writes: "I bought a coat on Saturday last and when I got home and fitted the coat on again I felt that the material was too stiff and the coat felt uncomfortable on."
She then telephoned the shop saying that she wanted to return the coat and asked if she could get a refund.
However, Maureen "was told that it was the policy of the shop not to give refunds".
"What are my rights in relation to this situation?" she asks.
A It's a bitter pill to swallow, but in fact for a 'change of mind' situation like this it is up to the shop whether they will accept a return and give you a refund or not.
Under consumer law you are entitled to a remedy such as repair, replacement or refund, but that's only if there is a fault with the product or an incorrect description is given for example. In Maureen's case she simply doesn't like the coat now, and that means she has no legal entitlement to return the coat and get a refund. Whether she can or not will depend on the shop's returns policy. While most good shops will allow returns, it seems that in this case they do not -- so all Maureen can do is to ask for some goodwill and hope for the best.
As we're entering the busiest shopping period of the year, please remember this and adhere to the following golden rule when doing all your Christmas shopping: always ask what the shop's returns policy is and if they do not except unwanted returns, think twice before you buy.
The one exception to this is if you buy online, where for most products you have a 'cooling-off' period of at least seven days.
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