Bargain-hunting Brits could be left out of pocket in the seasonal sales due to common consumer rights myths – such as the mistaken belief that shops have to sell goods at the displayed price.
That’s according to money experts Promotionalcodes, who have compiled a list of the biggest misconceptions shoppers have about what they can and can’t demand. Here's what you need to know!
1. “Shops are legally obliged to sell me goods for 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.
2. “My rights are the same for online shopping as in-store”
They’re actually a bit more complicated, 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.
3. “If I change my mind, I can return the goods within 28 days”
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.
4. “I need a receipt to return faulty goods”
No you don’t, though you may need to prove purchase somehow - for example, 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 also can’t return it if you caused the fault.
5. “I should hold the postal service responsible for parcels that don’t arrive”
Don’t. 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.
6. “My credit card purchases are protected by the card provider”
Yes – for goods and services costing between £100 and £30,000. Your credit provider will refund you if the firm folds before you get your goods, or if they’re faulty and the business refuses to rectify it. Be careful with things like train tickets, as two single journeys could be classed as two transactions and might not meet the cost threshold individually. You would also not be covered if you chose not to take the journey.
There are exceptions to this protection, such as loans and balance transfers.
7. “I don’t need 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. If a shop is prepared to refund or exchange a gift for its recipient, they’ll probably want a gift receipt.