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Follow the rules on sale refunds

Irish News Of the World, January 25th, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

What happens when I buy something in a sale, but want to return it?

You still have rights even if you see signs like “No Returns on Sale Items” or “No Exchanges” during a sale. In most cases you can safely ignore them, but the key question is your reason for wanting to return the item.

If you don’t like what you bought, or it doesn’t fit, or you’ve changed your mind about it, you don’t have any consumer rights. Instead, you’re at the mercy of the shops return policy. Because different shops will have different policies, ask before buying if you’re not sure whether they’ll allow exchanges or refunds.

If the item you bought is faulty, or doesn’t work as it should, then even in a sale, you’re entitled to the full benefits of consumer legislation. In these cases, you are entitled to a repair, a refund or a replacement. It is up to the retailer which of these options they might offer you. They are perfectly entitled to offer to fix the item or to replace it. Normally, a retailers last option is to offer a refund. But you don’t have to accept a voucher or credit note instead of cash as a refund.

If what you bought was clearly marked as “Seconds” or “Shop Soiled” then you obviously can’t expect perfect quality. However, these items should still be fit for purpose so if they don’t work as they should, your consumer rights still apply.

Remember to always keep your receipts and if you do have a problem, go back to the store as quickly as possible.

Check with Customer Services first to see if they’ll help you out with your problem – remember to always be polite and explain what exactly you would like them to do.

If they try to fob you off, politely insist that you’re only looking for what you’re entitled to under legislation and ask to speak to a manager. Remember, there’s always someone in charge, no matter what you’re told.

And, as a last resort, there is the Small Claims Court.

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