The People’s Champion

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Richard Thomson, our People’s Champion, answers your consumer questions.

Q I received a Christmas gift which is unsuitable. I’ve been told that as I didn’t buy it, I’m not entitled to a refund. Can you tell me where I stand please?

TR (internet)

A It’s true that strictly only the buyer of your gift can return it for a refund or replacement.

Some stores issue buyers with gift receipts, and others have generous policies allowing anyone to return merchandise as long as it’s in a resalable condition and you’ve proof of purchase.

If the unwanted gift was bought from one of the big national stores like M&S or BHS, they will agree to a no-quibble refund or exchange provided it is returned by the end of January and you have proof of purchase.

Q I gave my twin boys bikes from Halfords for Christmas. I noticed the very same bikes on offer in store at a 30 per cent discount in a New Year sale. Can I take them back and ask for a refund for the difference in price?

DB (email)

A Well you could be cheeky enough to try but to be brutally frank you’re not entitled to dump the original sale and restart over again. If you wanted this particular offer you should have waited for the January sales.

Q I bought a top-of-the-range coffee maker from Argos eight months ago. A defect with it meant that it wouldn’t keep the coffee hot. They agreed to replace it but the replacement wouldn’t be guaranteed for a year - only four months. I’m really quite upset about this and would like to know my rights.

BT (email)

A It may seem unjust to you, but Argos are well within their rights to insist that the product guarantee is limited to the remaining four months from the date of purchase.

They’re in effect repairing your defective machine by replacing it. In all fairness if buyers had the right to insist on a further 12-month guarantee every time goods were replaced, there’d be nothing to stop them making claims forever and a day.