Revealed: Consumer myths that could be leaving you out of pocket

How YOU can save money by shopping smart: Experts explain why it pays to know your consumer rights – including who to complain to when an order doesn’t arrive and why you’re NOT entitled to a refund

  • Personal finance site The Money Pig urge shoppers to learn rights as consumers
  • Shared the most common misconceptions that consumers often fall victim to 
  • Includes not automatically being allowed to return purchased item after 28 days 

In these uncertain economic times, everyone could do with saving some money.

And one unlikely way of leaving yourself better off is to understand your rights as a consumer. 

Personal finance experts at UK-based website TheMoneyPig.com have revealed the rights shoppers might not realise they are entitled to, including being able to return faulty goods without a receipt. 

They also explained the shopping myths that might catch out ill-prepared customers, like the commonly held belief that you are automatically entitled to a refund. 

Here, FEMAIL shares some of the most common dos and don’ts so you are better prepared for your next shopping trip…   

Personal finance experts at UK-based website TheMoneyPig.com have revealed the rights shoppers might not realise they are entitled to. Stock image

Your rights for online orders are more complicated than those for in-store purchases, though arguably better. While an in-store contract is made when you have paid, for an online store you may not have your contract until your item has been sent to you.

This means you might not have a contract even if you’ve received a confirmation email, and your order could be cancelled if the price was mistaken. You’ll need to check the terms and conditions to see when your contract would begin.

On the plus side, you do legally have a 14-day ‘cooling off’ period for online purchases from businesses (not private individuals), starting from the day you receive the item. This is to enable you to see the product properly before you make up your mind, so you can return it for any reason.

There are exceptions, such as if the goods are bespoke or perishable.

YOU DON’T NEED A RECEIPT TO RETURN FAULTY GOODS 

You don’t need a receipt to return faulty goods, although you may need to prove purchase somehow, such as a bank statement. If the item is faulty, not as described or doesn’t work as it’s supposed to, you are entitled to a full refund, unless you knew the item was faulty when you bought it.

YOU’RE NOT ENTITLED TO A RETURN

If there’s nothing wrong with the item and you’ve just decided you don’t like it, you don’t actually have an automatic right to a refund.

But most shops have policies for returns and will honour them, even though they don’t legally have to, and will often extend the return period after Christmas. Keep the receipts and original packaging.

The exception is if you’re within the 14-day cooling off period for an online purchase, as above.

Some goods, such as earrings for pierced ears, may not be returnable even under a shop’s policy.

Make sure you return the item as quickly as you can once you’ve noticed the fault to ensure the return goes smoothly. 

It will also reduce the likelihood of being asked if the fault is through wear and tear. If you caused the fault you cannot return the product.

THE POSTAL SERVICE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE IF YOUR GOODS DON’T ARRIVE 

The seller has the legal responsibility to ensure delivery, not the courier. If your item doesn’t arrive within 30 days of purchase, or by a date you agree with the seller, they owe you a replacement or refund.

Contact the person or company you bought the product from as soon as you can. They will hopefully send you a replacement or be able to track the parcel and let you know where It is. 

If your order hasn’t arrived within 30 days you can also cancel the product with a full refund, as per the Consumer Contracts Regulations. 

YOU CAN RETURN A GIFT WITHOUT A GIFT RECEIPT 

As we know, shops don’t have to refund you, but probably will if you can prove purchase and the goods are unused.

Gift receipts are likely to speed up the returns process so if offered, it’s often very helpful to take a gift receipt just in case. 

‘No matter how perfect the present may be for someone, they may have spotted something else they’d prefer from the shop – or you may know them too well and they already own the item!

If gift receipts aren’t available, you can ask the shop assistant to write ‘bought as a gift’ on the receipt and this will hold weight when it comes to returning the item. 

Shops aren’t legally obliged to refund gifts, however if they offer gift receipts it’s a good way of showing they’ll likely accept gift refunds.

SHOPS ARE NOT OBLIGED TO HONOUR THE DISPLAYED PRICE  

A shop does not have to sell you an item at its displayed price if it is a genuine error, although it is illegal to mislead consumers deliberately. 

This falls under the Trade Descriptions Act which makes it an offence for businesses to sell a product based on misinformation. 

This means that shops have to, as far as possible, tell the truth when it comes to products, prices and services.   

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