What to do with unwanted Christmas gifts

Holly Thomas / 27 December 2013 ( 10 November 2016 )

If you have things to sell as part of a New Year clear-out, or perhaps you're offloading unwanted Christmas presents to make a few extra pounds, then there are a number of options open to you.

These days thousands of people rush online to offload unwanted Christmas presents almost as soon they receive them.

Approximately 1,450,000 items were thought to be listed on eBay between Christmas Day and the end of Boxing Day last year, and it isn't too much of a leap to assume that the majority of these listings are unwanted Christmas presents. 

Other websites like musicmagpie.co.uk, where CDs, DVDs and video games can be traded in, see record numbers of items posted on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Attitude to unwanted gifts are changing

Not everyone gets it right when gifting at Christmas; each year we are increasingly selling unwanted gifts rather than clog up drawers and cupboards, perhaps due to a proliferation of house buying and selling programmes that tell us to de-clutter, self help books like Marie Kondo's Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up,  or simply because sites like eBay and musicmagpie have made it so much easier to do than ever before. 

So if you have a bunch of things to sell – even if it’s part of a New Year clear out rather than a cull of your naff Christmas presents – then there are a number of ways to do so.

Where to sell online

Using eBay is hugely popular because it doesn’t require too much effort or cost. 

While there is a knack to selling successfully on eBay, it’s not rocket science. The more details you include, the more interest you will get from buyers.

Adding good quality pictures will attract more people to bid.

Search for the item you’re selling and get ideas for how to present it.

You should also check out eBay's safety centre if you’re new to the site. It contains a huge amount of information to help you sell safely.

To receive payments you will need to set up a Paypal account which is reasonably straightforward.

eBay will charge an “insertion fee” for listings (up to a maximum of £1.30), and a “final-value fee” of 10% of the sale price, capped at £40. Paypal charge sellers a fee of between 1.4% and 3.4% on the total sale amount plus a 20p per transaction.

Amazon Marketplace allows you to sell second-hand and new versions of an item already sold on its main site.

Musicmagpie will buy your CDs, DVDs and video games for cash. You have to sell a minimum of 10 items at a time.

How to pay securely and safely for shopping online

Your rights for returns

If you get a gift that you would like to exchange or get a refund on, rather than sell, you will need to know your rights. Although retailers aren't legally obliged to refund you on purchases that aren’t faulty, most do so as a gesture of goodwill.

Wherever you go, having a receipt to hand will make it much easier to get a refund or exchange, although some shops will also allow it without one.

Even if the item was bought in the sale, you can still get a refund. Your rights when purchasing sale goods are exactly that same as when purchasing anything else.

Many shops are more lenient after Christmas and will give you extra time in which to bring something back or exchange it. Always check the time limit allowed for returns as they vary considerably.

John Lewis has no set time limit for the return of unsuitable products, which is its policy all year round, although it requires a receipt or proof of purchase. Others will extend the dates to the end of January to give you time to return – and ease the queues at tills on Boxing Day.

Some small shops may not be able to afford such goodwill gestures so get in touch to check their policy to avoid missing the cut off date.

If something was bought online there is only a standard seven-day cooling off period from when the item was purchased to get a refund. But check with the website to see if you can exchange it, if it’s something you really can’t live with.

Many online retailers will offer you something in return, but will typically expect you to pay for the return postage when you send the item back.

What are your online shopping rights?

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