Brits could be missing out on millions of pounds worth of cash because of the wildy differing policies High Street stores and websites have for unwanted presents.
We recently conducted research into the Christmas returns policies of 26 of the leading high street brands and have found huge differences in the level of good will being spread by different stores this festive season.
Technically consumers have no right to a refund or exchange and instead most stores do it as a goodwill gesture so before you go kicking off about the socks you received – bear in mind that unless they are faulty, the retailer doesn’t have to take them back.
Most shops do allow a return within 28 days of purchase but thankfully this is extended over the festive time.
Below is the list of retailers we analysed and details of their Christmas returns policy so if you’ve got presents you want to return make sure you don’t miss the deadline.
Over the year M&S offer a ‘goodwill’ returns policy which gives customers 35 days to return or exchange an item bought online or in store with a valid receipt or parcel summary document.
Most items online can be returned for free but there are some exceptions including furniture, kitchen electricals and non-M&S branded toys.
Items bought in store can be exchanged at any UK store but items purchased online cannot be exchanged via post, they can only be refunded.
The extended Christmas returns policy has been valid from September 14 which means anything bought online from then can be returned up until January 16.
Items returned by post must be posted by January 16.
Under their usual return policy the store are happy to exchange or refund a purchase within 28 days of delivery. Items which you wish to be exchanged can only be done in store.
Items purchased in store or online as Christmas gifts can be returned up until January 31.
To save the chaos on Boxing Day, River Island refuse to accept returns on December 26 but they have extended their usual 14 day return policy. Orders placed today can be returned online or in store up until January 31 for a refund. Make sure to keep hold of the despatch note as proof of purchase because if that is lost they can only exchange the item at the current selling price.
Only refunds can be offered with online purchases as they are unable to offer an exchange.
M and M Direct
The online retailer sells big brands at reduced prices. Since October M and M Direct have been offering an extended Christmas returns policy where customers have until January 19 to return their goods.
For purchases outside of this time the usual 28 day return policy is in place but they do not offer a free returns service.
They offer a Hermes return service where you can pay £2.99 to have your items left with the Hermes Parcel Shop. Or you can return your goods via the post office and be charged for standard delivery.
Orders which were placed on the online store from November can be returned up until January 31. Their usual policy is you can return any item for free within 28 days of receiving it.
The usual return policy for Next is 14 days but they have extended this for the Christmas period. You can now return items up until January 17 unless they are Christmas decorations and then you have 14 days from the date of the in store purchase. If ordered online you have 14 days from the date you receive the Christmas decorations.
For online purchases between November 9 and December 24 you can return your goods from Ted Baker up to and including January 24 – but only for a gift card or exchange. You can also return purchases made online to a standalone store. Goods purchased from a standalone store from November 1 can be returned up to and including January 24 for a gift card or exchange. Similarly to River Island, the store is refusing to process returns from Boxing Day to December 28.
In order to serve customers as quickly as possible the branch are refusing to process refunds or exchanges on Boxing Day. But any Christmas purchases made between October 31 and Christmas Eve can be returned until January 31 with a receipt. However as with their usual policy – sale items can only be exchanged and not refunded.
Their usual policy is to return goods with 28 days of purchase.
Any items purchased between October 26 and Christmas Eve can be returned up to and including January 10. Their website doesn’t make it clear whether this is just in store returns or online as well.
No returns will be processed between Boxing Day and December 28.
All items purchased between October 26 and Christmas Eve can be returned for an exchange or refund up to and including January 30.
Cash refunds for gifts can only be made to the payment card used to purchase the goods. So if a recipient wants to return the gifts they can get a gift card of the same value.
Like other stores, H Samuel are not dealing with returns from Boxing Day up to and including December 28.
Orders made online between November 13 and December 7 can be returned by January 11. Anything purchased in store with a gift receipt can be returned to a store by January 4.
The online clothing retailer have extended their usual 14 day return policy over the Christmas period. Orders made between November 12 and Boxing Day can now be returned up until January 18.
During the Christmas period their standard 30 day returns policy has been extended. This means online purchases from October 24 to Boxing Day can be returned to their warehouse up to and including January 21. However if returning to a store an exchange or gift card will be offered.
The standard 30 day return policy has been extended by Amazon over the Christmas period. Items dispatched from November 1 to December 31 can be returned at any time before midnight January 31.
Any items purchased throughout November and December can be exchanged up until January 31. There are some exclusions to items which cannot be exchanged such as games credit and subscriptions. In store they will be exchanging unwanted Christmas gifts from December 27.
Toys R Us
If you make purchases online from November 4 to December 18 you can return the items up until January 15 for a refund online or from a store.
Their website states this policy does not apply to purchases made in store.
For purchases made from November 1, WHSmith have extended their returns policy to last until 30 days from Christmas – until January 23.
House of Fraser
From October 25 you can return items in store for an exchange or refund to a gift card. If returning online you will get an eVoucher to use instead. If you are not happy with your purchase you can return it for a full refund to the original payment within 14 days of purchase.
Pandora’s 30 day standard returns policy has been extended for products purchased between November 2 and Christmas Eve. Purchases can be refunded online or in store up to and including January 17.
F&F will offer a full refund up until January 31 both online and in store for any purchase of unwanted presents which were bought between November 1 and December 24.
The White Company
The standards return policy has been extended and returns will be extended until January 31.
An item that was received as a gift can be returned for an exchange or gift vouchers but an email will be sent to the person who made the original purchase. Refunds can only be made to the original credit or debit card on which the gift was purchased.
The standard 30 day policy has been extended and any online purchases made from October 24 to Christmas Eve can be returned to the warehouse up to and including January 21 – for a full refund. If returned to a store then an exchange or gift card will be offered.
The Watch Shop
All items ordered from November 1 are valid for a full refund until January 31.
Anything purchased from November 1 online can be returned in store for a full refund until January 9. However anything purchased in store from November 1 is valid for exchange only until January 9.
Items can be returned within 28 days of receipt but gift receipts can be used to make an exchange until January 17.
As long as you have the original invoice and credit or debit card used to make the purchase – you can get a full refund on any Christmas gift as long as it is sealed and in the original packaging
Also to battle the brutal Boxing Day sales – a few shops refuse to deal with refunds on the day.