If you are dreaming of a trouble-free Christmas when it comes to festive shopping, some timely advice has been issued by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Trading Standards and Cheshire West Citizens Advice.

It can be very frustrating if you have bought something for Christmas and it’s either faulty, breaks down or just isn’t what you were expecting when it is delivered, so it’s worth getting up to speed with your new consumer rights to help you buy with confidence.

The council’s Cabinet member for environment and community, Cllr Mark Henesy, said: “The run up to Christmas can be a busy time for us all. The Consumer Rights Act is one of the biggest changes in consumer law in recent years, so it is important that both shoppers and traders are aware of their rights, particularly if things go wrong.

“Knowing your rights can take some of the stress out of shopping. Shoppers who know their rights shop with confidence, saving time and money, which is good for all concerned.

“Nobody wants to give or receive a defective product but it is important to know how to resolve any issues, should they arise.”

Cheshire West and Chester councillor Mark Henesy (Lab, Strawberry ward)
Cheshire West and Chester councillor Mark Henesy (Lab, Strawberry ward)

If you have bought goods after October 1, 2015, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 applies and it is now easier to understand and enforce your consumer rights.

Here is a summary of the main changes to the law and tips for a happy Christmas shopping experience:

Refunds for poor quality goods – If you bought goods after October 1 you have the right to a full refund within 30 days of purchase if the goods you have bought are faulty, not fit for purpose or don’t match their description. If goods have a fault within six months and they can’t be repaired or replaced, in most cases you are entitled to a refund.

Returning unwanted goods – your rights are different depending upon whether you bought from a shop or through distance selling (online, over the phone or mail order). If you have bought goods from a shop and there is nothing wrong with them and you’ve simply changed your mind, you do not have any rights to a refund although some shops do have a refund policy, so always check the terms of the refund policy before buying.

If you’ve bought online, over the phone or by mail order - The new law states that if you change your mind you now have 14 days (increased from seven days) from the date you received the goods to tell the seller you have changed your mind and obtain a refund. Once you have told the seller you have another 14 days to return the goods. There are a few exceptions, such as personalised items or goods that will deteriorate quickly. Make sure you know what your cancellation rights are and how much it’s going to cost you to send goods back before you buy. If the goods are faulty the seller must refund the return postal costs.

Extra costs - If you are buying online, over the phone or by mail order check any additional costs, such as delivery and any other charges. This information must be made clear and you will not be responsible for costs you were not made aware of before you entered into the contract.

Finally, don’t get scammed and watch out for fake goods; always buy from a genuine and reputable retailer. If the price sounds too good to be true – it probably is! If you are buying online, ensure you check the seller and the website out. Check that the contact details and address is real, do a price check and read online reviews. Check to see if the website is a legitimate stockist by visiting www.brand-i.org.

Lisa Williams, consumer empowerment partnership co-ordinator at Cheshire West Citizens Advice, said: “Anyone can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer service helpline on 03454 04 05 06, or online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also call into your local Citizens Advice office.”