17 December 2018

Top tips for perfect Christmas shopping

As the holiday season approaches, we are all looking for the perfect Christmas gifts for our friends and family at the best possible prices. Here we look at some key points you should bear in mind before you shop until you drop!

‘Invitations to treat’

It is common practice for goods on display in a store to be labelled with a specific price. However, when purchasing the present at the checkout, a staff member may inform you that the goods have been labelled incorrectly, and the real price is different to that displayed (usually greater). What are your rights?

The general legal position is that the display of goods for sale at a fixed price is an ‘invitation to treat’, rather than an offer. This means that it is an invitation for the buyer to make an offer, or an expression of the seller’s willingness to enter into negotiations towards a contract. By attempting to pay at the labelled price, the buyer is are in fact the party making the offer which then may lead to a contract. Therefore, the seller is well within its rights to accept the buyer’s offer, make a counter-offer (i.e. the ‘real’ price at which the goods are to be sold) or reject the buyer’s offer accordingly.

Remember that just because the goods are advertised at a certain price, which may be the wrong price, the seller does not have to sell them to you at that price.

Buying in the High Street – top tips

• Check whether the retailer you purchase from has a returns policy. If it does, you must abide by its terms as this will form part of the contract when you purchase your present/s. Consider if you are able to return the presents and how long you have to do so.
• In accordance with the Consumer Rights Act 2015, any presents you buy must be of satisfactory quality and for the purpose of their intended use. Under the Act, you have the right to reject any item which is damaged, faulty, unfit for purpose or of unsatisfactory quality within 30 days of the date of sale.
• Always keep your receipt as proof of purchase. This will enable you to return the item if you so wish.
• Take photographs (with date and time visible) of any presents you are not satisfied with. This evidence will prove important when it comes to exercising your rights in the event of a dispute.
• Even if the 30 day period elapses, you are able to request repair or a replacement within six months of the sale. The onus will be on the retailer to prove that the damage or fault occurred some other way.
• If you cannot get repair or a replacement within six months, complain in writing to the store manager. You can ask again for a repair or replacement but the onus will now be on you to prove it was damaged or faulty at the time of sale.

Online Shopping – top tips

• You can rely upon the Consumer Contracts Regulations and generally cancel any order up to 14 days if you do not want it. You will then have a further 14 days to return your order.
• There are certain goods which may be non-returnable, such as perishables, made-to-order and personalised goods, and DVD/music/computer software if the seal is broken.
• Always keep a record of your proof of purchase.
• Regardless of whether you buy online or in store, goods must always comply with the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Therefore, you can always start a faulty goods claim if you are not happy with your purchase.
• If you are not happy with the quality or performance of your presents, consider other cost-saving options as well as legal advice. You can donate these gifts to charity shops, or resell them on online forums or at car boot sales to mitigate your loss

For more information or advice on your consumer rights, please visit our page here.

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About the Author
Marc Lazarus, Partner
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