Shoppers in South Tyneside are being urged to stand up for their rights when looking to return or exchange faulty Christmas gifts or head out shopping in the January sales.
South Tyneside Council’s trading standards team is raising awareness of the Consumer Rights Act, which was updated in 2015.
It gives more benefits for buyers as well as greater protection for items bought online, including digital downloads.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “Christmas is a time for giving, but it is also a time when people return items.
“Some goods may be defective, clothes may not fit or they may just be unwanted.
“The new Consumer Rights Act gives buyers better protection. It makes it easier for shoppers to understand their rights and simplifies the law for businesses.
“Having this knowledge will enable consumers to return items with greater confidence. It is also very useful for people to know their consumer rights while out looking to get some bargains in the new year.”
The new Consumer Rights Act is an extensive piece of legislation and came into force on 1 October 2015.
The Act simplifies and clarifies consumer law, provides new cover for consumers buying digital content, such as music downloads or ebooks, and sets out what should happen when goods or services do not match up to what was agreed.
If a problem does occur, the act makes it easier for disputes between consumers and businesses to be settled.
It also aims to help encourage businesses to improve their goods, services and customer relations.
Under the new act retailers are now obliged to give consumers a full refund on items that turn out to be faulty, for up to 30 days after the purchase.
Consumers are also entitled to a replacement or full refund for digital content purchases if they are not as described by the seller, of a satisfactory quality or fit for purpose.
For consumer advice, contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 0506 or visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/tradingstandards
Top consumer tips:
1) Keep all receipts, including gift receipts, as proof of purchase
2) If items turn out to be faulty, consumers are entitled to a full refund from the retailer for up to 30 days after purchase
3) For gifts costing more than £100, paying by credit card gives extra protection;
4) People who change their mind about a purchase bought in store are not automatically entitled to a refund or exchange, unless it is faulty.
5) Many retailers have generous returns policies. Some offer a replacement or credit note as a goodwill gesture but it is not a legal requirement
6) Consumers buying digital content are entitled to a replacement or refund if the purchase is not as described, of a satisfactory quality or fit for purpose
7) Online shoppers have the right to return goods (except bespoke and perishables) and receive a full refund, no questions asked, within 14 days of goods being delivered. They also have the right to receive that refund within 14 days of returning the goods, and the right to cancel a service contract entered into online within 14 days
8) Online traders must provide a description of the goods or services, the total price, delivery costs, details of cancellation rights and their full contact details. If traders fail to provide this information, consumer cancellation rights could be extended by up to one year.