Knowing your consumer rights is crucial, many people simply accept excuses such as ‘no refunds or exchanges’ on faulty goods and services and are left out of pocket as a result. Knowing your rights gives you the confidence to know where you stand when it comes to getting a refund or exchange under the Consumer Rights Act.

Consumer’s rights to an exchange or refund are governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the retailer’s terms and conditions or if goods are bought online then the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

If the goods are faulty then the former applies and a consumer has a statutory right if the item is faulty or not fit for purpose.

When can you get a refund?

If you buy in a shop and the goods are faulty you are entitled to an automatic refund within 30 days of purchase.

If the goods are not faulty then an entitlement to a refund will depend on the returns policy of the specific store.  Most high street stores will allow items to be returned within 28 days but you should check the details with the store – some may say only 14 days.

Entitlement to an Exchange

A person is not entitled to an exchange as of right.  If you buy in a shop and the goods are faulty and you choose not to accept a refund within the 30 days (as above) then the Consumer Rights Act states that you must give a retailer the opportunity at this stage to repair it or replace the item.

If the goods are not faulty then again whether you are entitled to an exchange will depend on the returns policy of the specific store.

Returning / exchanging items bought online

You have further rights when buying goods online in addition to the above.

If the goods are faulty your rights are the same as above.

However if your goods are not faulty you have  a statutory right to return items bought online for up to a period of 14 days (although this may be extended by the retailer in its terms and conditions).  You must return the items within 14 days of cancellation and the retailer must refund you within 14 days of the goods being returned.

What to do if you don’t have a receipt

If the goods are faulty you still have the same rights to a refund etc. even if you don’t have the receipt.

If the goods are not faulty and you have lost the receipt there is no obligation on the retailer to refund you your money.  They may consider giving you a credit note or exchanging the item for you but this is entirely down to the discretion of the retailer and what their returns policy states.

Returning a gift

If returning a gift that has been given to you the same policies apply.  Gifts should come with gift receipts if possible but it is unlikely that you will receive a full refund if payment was made by card as the same card will need to be present in order to receive a refund.

A store in all likelihood will offer a credit note or exchange.


It is worth noting that unless there is a fault most stores will not refund or exchange goods etc… where they have not been returned in a re-saleable condition and in the original packaging.  There are some exceptions to this – Tesco and John Lewis for example have a no quibble approach to any returns as do some other retailers.

In addition – for faulty items your statutory rights are the same for items whether you have paid full price or you have bought in a sale.

Best practice would be to always try and ensure you keep your receipt for your items and where possible buy from a reputable store.

If you intend to buy something as a gift speak with the store about their returns policy – Marks and Spencer will provide a gift receipt and extends its returns policy at Christmas in order to accommodate individuals seeking to return gifts in January.

If you feel your consumer rights have been breached give our specialist dispute resolution team a call today on 0161 930 5117. You can also fill in our online contact form and one of our expert team members will contact you at a more convenient time.

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