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How to return unwanted goods

( 25 December 2014 )

A guide to help you know your rights when you return unwanted goods.

Model parcels on a keyboard
Your legal position is stronger if you buy online, by mail order or by phone
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If you buy something but decide you don’t want it, what are your rights?


Returning goods after buying online or by mail order

Your legal position is stronger if you buy online, by mail order or by phone. This is largely because consumers are unable to inspect items in person before buying through these channels.

You can cancel most orders of this type or send the goods back provided you do so within 14 days of receiving them.

You will not be able to return certain things, for example a T-shirt with a personal message, made-to-measure curtains, or perishable items such as food.


Charges for returned goods

You should not be charged for cancelling your order within the cooling-off period. However, if you paid for a more expensive delivery method, you might only be refunded the standard delivery charge.

And in some cases, you may be responsible for return postage. If this is the case, it should be stated on the company’s returns policy which was provided to you when your order was accepted.

Returning goods after buying from a shop

High-street retailers are under no obligation to offer refunds for unwanted items that aren’t faulty.

However, many will allow you to exchange unwanted goods or give you a credit note.

Typically, items have to be returned within a certain period, say 14 days, and must be in perfect condition.

Some stores have a policy of not offering exchanges on goods bought in the sales, however.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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