United Kingdom

Early Christmas shoppers warned that Black Friday purchases given as gifts could be hard to return

Resolver has received more than 6,000 complaints about Black Friday in the past three years, with common gripes including retailers offering credit notes instead of cash refunds or passing responsibility on to delivery firms or manufacturers.

Graham Wynn, of the British Retail Consortium, said many retailers go "well beyond" the minimum legal standards in terms of Christmas returns.

He added: “It is best for consumers to check the retailer’s terms and conditions before making a purchase, and it is advisable to shop with reputable retail firms or marketplaces. Customers should be cautious with deals that seem too good to be true, especially from unknown overseas retailers and websites.” 

Customers have a legal right to a refund for items which are faulty or arrive not as advertised.

Early Christmas shoppers have been warned that presents bought on Black Friday may not be returned if given as gifts and not opened until the big day.

Consumer group Resolver said retailers should extend their Christmas return periods to help people who receive unwanted presents sent directly to them by loved ones because of the pandemic.

The public has been urged to shop early this year in anticipation of disruption to online deliveries caused by Covid-19. 

But Martyn James, from Resolver, warned that recipients of gifts bought early could fall foul of complicated rules around returns. 

Although many retailers offer an extended window for gifts purchased as early as October, some do not appear to have yet launched their schemes this year, while others will only offer refunds if packages are unopened.

Mr James said: “The big worry for me is that this Black Friday people will be shopping for Christmas gifts and will opt to send those gifts directly to loved ones who they aren’t sure they will see in person.

“Those people won’t open them until Christmas Day, or even later, and they may not be able to easily return them.”

He pointed out that extended return periods are not a statutory right and are voluntarily offered by retailers, meaning policies will differ between shops.

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