It's a story as old as Christmas itself: you've dropped hints all year for that new watch/handbag/game/perfume, but you end up with a pair of socks or a hideous scarf from under the tree.
So, what are your rights when it comes to returning your present and getting what you really want?
Can I return it to the store for a refund?
Stores must refund any item for up to 30 days if it's faulty. Technically they have no obligation to refund an item which is in full working order. However, most big department stores like Marks & Spencer, Boots, Debenhams, John Lewis etc will anyway.
With Black Friday, many people will have begun their Christmas shopping in late November, and many stores extended their Christmas returns period to six weeks to allow for returns in January for gifts bought on Black Friday.
You also need to have the receipt, although a bank statement can also act as proof of purchase. If an item is faulty, the legal rights pass on to the person receiving the gift, so you don't need to be the one who bought it.
What about online?
Online orders are covered by Distance Selling Regulations, which means you have 14 days to change your mind about the item and return it, no questions asked, for a full refund (this also applies to contracts taken out online or over the phone. You can cancel the contract entirely within 14 days with no penalty). The only things not covered by this are personalised items and some perishables.
Do I definitely need a receipt?
It helps, but not always. Some stores will allow you to exchange gifts without one, especially lines only offered in that store (e.g. M&S branded clothing, No 7 range in Boots, etc). Again, a bank statement can also serve as proof of purchase. Try to talk to the manager in store if you're having trouble.
If the gift was bought on a credit or debit card, the shop will need the original card to refund onto. So you may have to settle for a gift card instead...
Major stores and their returns policy this Christmas - according to their websites
Marks & Spencer
Our extended Christmas returns policy is valid from 9th October 2017. This means that you can now return online purchases up until 13th January 2018. Normal exclusions apply. Click here for more details on our standard returns policy.
Most things that you buy as presents, purchased online or in stores from Thursday 19th October 2017, can be returned up until Wednesday 31st January 2018.
Shopping for Christmas? We’ve extended our returns window just for the festive season. Gifts you buy from 20 October up until 24 December 2017 can be returned up to 28 January 2018 if unwanted or unsuitable.
If you’re buying in store, please ask for a gift receipt so recipients can make returns themselves too; we’re sorry that we can’t provide gift receipts for online purchases. All our other terms and conditions apply to exchanges and refunds, and this doesn't affect your statutory rights.
You can return any unwanted products free of charge within 35 days for a refund or replacement. Unfortunately we aren't able to exchange products.
The Returns Support Centre allows gift recipients and gift givers to return items fulfilled by Amazon.co.uk, even if the order wasn't marked as a gift when it was purchased. The type of refund or credit you receive depends on how the gift was purchased and how it's returned.
We've specially extended our returns period for the Christmas season. Items dispatched by Amazon.co.uk during the period from 1 November, 2017 to 31 December, 2017 inclusive may be returned at any time before midnight on 31 January, 2018. This return policy is valid for: all items sold and dispatched by Amazon.co.uk, items sold by third-party sellers and fulfilled by Amazon, as well as items offered with the Prime logo, which are sold and fulfilled by third-party sellers. Our returns policy will revert to the standard 30-day period for items dispatched after 31 December, 2017.
Gifts you buy from 2 November until 15 December 2017 can be returned up to 15 January 2018 if unwanted or unsuitable. Any product (excluding gift vouchers/gift cards/digital downloads*) may be returned for refund or exchange within 30 days of the purchase date, providing that the seal remains unbroken.10 Oct 2017