‘Black Friday’ is coming up and sees the commencement of the most intense annual period of consumer spending which continues with the run-up to Christmas and the annual January sales thereafter. In light of this, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is issuing the following recommendations to local consumers with a view to minimising disappointments during the festive season.
Remember your statutory rights
Any goods that you buy, whether in the high street or online must fit the description given, be of satisfactory quality and suitable for purpose. If they are not you may be entitled to refunds, repairs or replacements.
Shop around for the best prices in town
Look around for the best price before you buy. Refund and return policies are not obligatory and you may not be able to return an item just because you have found a cheaper price elsewhere.
Check if retailers have refund and return policies
Refund policies are only obligatory where goods are not as described, are of unsatisfactory quality and/or are not suitable for pupose. Many retailers nevertheless offer additional refund and return policies which differ from store to store. Make sure you check whether refunds, exchanges or credit notes are available and how long you have to make use of these. Remember, you do not automatically have the right to return unwanted purchases.
Many goods will come with a free warranty which offers consumer protection in addition to their statutory rights. Make sure you read the terms and conditions and follow instructions to validate your manufacturer’s warranty. Please note however that manufacturer’s warranties may not necessarily be applicable to goods sold in Gibraltar. You should, therefore, ask the retailer what warranty applies locally to each good.
Keep your receipts
If you wish to return your goods or make a claim against a retailer you will need proof of your purchase, so keep your receipts. You may also use any relevant bank and credit card statements where necessary.
If buying a gift for a loved one ask for a gift receipt. These enable the recipient of the gift to exercise their rights to return the goods or make a claim against the retailer if something is wrong with the goods without revealing the price of the item.
Gift vouchers are a popular present, however, you need to be aware of the terms and conditions of each voucher, often found in small print. If a voucher has an expiry date this information should be communicated to you.
Act promptly if something is wrong
Check your purchases at the store or as soon as you get them home if they have been delivered. If something is wrong you will need to act promptly if you wish to exercise your statutory right reject the goods and claim a full refund.
Repairs or replacements
If goods are naturally defective (as opposed to being misused or suffering from normal wear and tear) and you’ve had them for some time, you may still be entitled to a free repair, like for like replacement or partial refund.
Do your online shopping in time
Retailers have up to 30 days to deliver goods unless otherwise agreed, so it’s worth doing your online shopping early to ensure your goods arrive in time for Christmas. If you want your goods to arrive before Christmas make sure this is guaranteed by the retailer.
Remember your additional online shopping rights
In addition to your statutory rights, consumers also have additional protection when shopping online. In most cases consumers will have a 14 working day cancellation period, from delivery, to change their mind and get a full refund, including the basic delivery charges. You may be asked to cover the reasonable costs of return carriage but these must be made clear in the terms and conditions of sale.
Remember you have exactly the same rights on sale items as you do on full price goods. If a reduction is offered as a result of a fault that is pointed out to you however you will not be able to make a claim for this fault later.
We hope that you will find these tips useful and will help you avoid any unfortunate surprises during the festive season. Should you nevertheless encounter any problems or have doubts about your consumer rights please contact the OFT’s Consumer Protection Team: