Wednesday 18 September 2019

Your Money: Avoid the blues after Black Friday

If you change your mind after splurging you may still be able to get cash back

Spending spree: Refunds are possible, but vary depending on the circumstances of the purchase
Spending spree: Refunds are possible, but vary depending on the circumstances of the purchase
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

Oh dear. Went a little mad on Black Friday and suffering from buyer's remorse? Not to worry. You might still have a remedy to your shopping hangover. Today I'm looking at sending stuff back, and hopefully, getting your money back too.


Normally you can only return goods bought in a shop if they are damaged, not as described or don't do what they're supposed to. Anything after that is at the store's discretion; they don't even have to offer a credit note. Happily, online rights are stronger and it doesn't make any difference whether it was a discounted item or you paid full price. According to the European Consumer Centre, "When buying online, in sales or at full price, you have very strong rights when it comes to changing your mind without giving any reason."

This is known as the 14-day cooling off period. It's good if you happen to buy something you later regret, but don't take too long to make that decision.

The 14 days kicks in from the time you receive the goods and once you inform the trader that you wish to avail of this right of withdrawal then you have another 14 days to return the goods. However, you may have to pay for the cost of returning it, so check in the terms and conditions or FAQ section of a site before buying. However, if you buy your bargain in the actual (street) shop and just change your mind then it's up to the retailer's returns policy. If you bought outside the EU, you have no rights unless the store/website agrees to a refund.


Some purchases are not covered by the 14-day cooling-off period - for instance, hotel bookings, car rental, travel tickets, personalised goods (eg, a football shirt with your name on the back), audio and video recordings or software that has been unsealed by the consumer, perishable goods and 'intimate' items, such as lingerie or swimwear if the packaging has been tampered with.

Late deliveries

You should receive the goods no later than 30 days from the date of purchase unless an alternative date has been agreed between you and the retailer says the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. "If the goods are not delivered within the time frame you should contact the business and arrange another date that is suitable to you or cancel the contract and receive a full refund. The business should refund you the money without any delay."

Auction Sites

Third party resellers or auction site middle-men like eBay or DoneDeal do not have to refund you for items not delivered, or something you don't like. Your contract is considered to be with the original seller, and these sites are merely the agent for sale.

It can be very difficult to get a refund if something goes wrong, although some have better policies than others. eBay for instance, offers a refund for faulty or damaged goods through an online form, but if you change your mind, you'll have to deal with the seller directly. If you made your payment via PayPal you have a far better chance.


All is not lost if you bought a boo-boo and left it too late to exchange. If it's not to your taste, someone else could love it. If gifting it to a friend, just re-wrap it beautifully and add a card. But you'll have to dodge the bullet if they ask to return it. My advice is to come clean.


If worst comes to worst and you're stuck with something you really can't use, don't put it in the shed, give it to a local charity shop. Someone will be grateful for it, promise!

Irish Independent

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