26-Dec

Boxing Day sales: What you need to know about returns, refunds and unwanted gifts

Boxing Day has cemented itself as one of the best days to go shopping in New Zealand – if not the busiest.

Consumers will flock to shopping centres in search of the best retail deals, while others will scour the internet for hidden deals.

According to figures released by electronic payments service provider Paymark, Kiwis made a whopping 2.5 million purchases worth a combined $139.5 million last Boxing Day.

And today the wrapping paper from Christmas Day would barely have made it into the bin by the time unwanted gifts would start surfacing for resale online.

But are retailers required to accept unwanted gifts – even those purchased belatedly today?

The simple answer was no, Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said, advising consumers to always ask for an exchange card while making a purchase.

“Ask the store for an exchange card and check how long the person will have to return the item,” she said.

“If you’re buying a gift card, always check if there’s an expiry date. Avoid buying cards that don’t give the person a reasonable time to use them.”

However, recently consumers had become increasingly more empowered, according to Chris Wilkinson, managing director of retail strategists and consultants First Retail Group.

“That’s come from their power online and through the value of products. The empowerment of consumers is part of that DNA now.

“If they feel they have been treated inappropriately they can feedback that information quickly.”

Consumers also expected goodwill from retailers in their in-store shopping experience, meaning many would go out of their way to support those who made their shopping experience special.

So as the country prepares for one of the biggest shopping days of the year, here’s some handy advice around returns, refunds and how to approach unwanted gifts.

If it’s too good to be true …

Retail websites are not exactly your friend. They work hard to try get you to splurge on stocking up on products online.

They often use misleading tactics such as inaccurately reporting the item was “selling fast” or they could use fake celebrity endorsements.

A quick search online for the product or the retailer might help you find a cheaper price or could even help identify if an amazing deal was a scam.

How to avoid being ripped-off

Check to make sure there is a padlock symbol on the address bar and the webpage address starts with “https” before you buy anything or punch in your payment details.

If it isn’t secure, it could prove costly filling in your personal and payment details into the webpage to a potentially harmful site.

Meanwhile, it also pays to use a debit or credit card when you shop online. This means you would be able to apply for a chargeback if there were any issues.

Boxing Day Sales
Boxing Day Sales

What if you just don’t like it?

Retailers don’t have to refund or exchange any unwanted gifts – only if the product is faulty. However, some would take back presents to keep customers happy.

Buying clothing and jewellery gifts for other people is often a tricky thing given everyone’s tastes can be different, Wilkinson said.

“Retailers in these kinds of spaces are very aware based on a goodwill basis and for buyer confidence that providing gift receipt cards means people can come back and swap that gift over. It’s becoming fundamental.”

So to be safe, it might be worth asking if the store offers exchange cards when you make a purchase that you could hand on if the product is a gift.

Delivery dilemmas

Consumers are able to claim refunds if products do not arrive by the agreed delivery date, whether you buy online or in-store.

If you haven’t agreed, the delivery must arrive in a “reasonable” time – but only if the retailer operated in the New Zealand market.

New Zealand laws also mean if a product arrives damaged and the delivery had been arranged, the retailer couldn’t pass it off and blame the courier.

Is it broken?

All products bought for personal use from a trader fall under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) whether you bought or received it as a gift.

The act requires all goods are of acceptable quality; fit for purpose; match the sample, model and advertised descriptions; reasonable price; delivered on time or within a reasonable time; and would be owned by the customer once purchased.

The CGA applied to all traders which advertise or sell to Kiwi consumers, even if the company was based overseas.

Retailers are not able to escape the obligations of the CGA, for example, by placing a “no refunds” sign on their store.

source