Bought something and now you want to take it back? We explain your consumer rights.
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Usually when you buy things the contract is final. You don't have the right to return goods and exchange them or get a refund simply because you've changed your mind or your circumstances have changed.
Say you bought yourself a smartphone. What if:
The answer to all these questions is no. But keep reading.
You are entitled to return an item in the following circumstances:
Credit contract cooling-off period
Say you signed up to buy a washing machine under a store finance deal. They haven't delivered it yet and it's less than 3 days since you were given your copy of the credit contract. You can cancel both the credit contract and the contract to buy the machine. See Borrowers' rights for more information about this.
You'll be able to return a product if, before purchase, the shop agreed to a special deal that you could return it if you changed your mind. Usually tags must still be attached, boxes must still be sealed and the item unused.
You have 5 working days to cancel a door-to-door sale if you change your mind for any reason. The trader must provide a full refund if you cancel.
Some stores have a no-questions-asked exchange policy for customers who change their mind. This usually means you can swap for another item or a credit note. Occasionally a store returns policy allows you a refund but this is up to the store.
A sign in the store that just says 'no refunds' is illegal. This is because it may mislead you about your rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
If all else fails, negotiate!
Just because you don't have the right to return the item or get a refund, you can still ask the store. Many retailers are happy to oblige anyway, to keep their customers happy.
If an item has a serious fault then you are allowed to return it. See our full report on the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) for more details.
Generally a serious fault means a reasonable consumer wouldn't have bought the product if they'd known about the fault. The CGA also applies if the item can't be easily repaired, is unsafe, doesn't match its description or demo sample, or isn't fit for the product's normal purpose.
The Consumer Advice Line is available to all our members for support on any consumer-related issue. Our expert advisers can explain your rights and help you resolve problems with a retailer. Become a member now from just $9.95 and let us help you get a resolution.
This information is available to Consumer members only.