Your Rights - Make your New Year’s resolution to know where you stand

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Trading Standards

Christmas sees the highest retail sales of the year, with online sales expected to make up a third of all shopping done over the festive period.

The value of online shopping has doubled in the last five years, with UK households spending an extra £740 in December.

But there are some shopping tips to take into the new year too, so you can make sure you know where you stand, when you’re shopping all year round.

Councillor Karen May, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “We know that December is a particularly busy month for shopping but we are a nation of shoppers all year round. Our Trading Standards team have put together some tips to reminding residents of the potential risks to look out when buying gifts. If residents have any concerns about any item they have bought or received and would like some advice on their consumer rights they should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 11 33.” 

Internet Shopping

This year, it is likely more of us will do at least some of our Christmas shopping online. This can have its pitfalls and you may find that you are using a bogus site which takes your money but gives you nothing in return, or you may inadvertently buy fake, low quality, dangerous goods.

There are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself from such problems. Research the website. Does it display a geographical address and phone number in the UK where you can contact the trader? If you are paying for goods online using a credit card, check the site is secure by looking for a ‘padlock’ symbol in the browser window. The web address should also start with ‘https//’.


When buying Christmas presents, ensure that you only buy items that are safe for use. Trading Standards recommend that you look for a CE mark on goods such as toys and electrical items. These prove that they were manufactured in line with European safety standards.

All toys must be marked with an age restriction, which assess risks such as choking hazards, and you should always follow the age recommendations when gifting a toy to a child.

Counterfeit goods

Be careful not to fall for fakes if tempted to buy cheap products from car boot sales, internet auctions, social media sites and other websites, as gifts this festive season.  These can offer a temptingly cheap alternative to buying from high street shops, but fake goods are often made from inferior materials, can be dangerous, and could result in injury or even death.


If we receive a gift that we don’t like, we don’t automatically have the right to return it for a refund. In most cases, only the person who purchased the item can return it. The shop only has to offer a refund if the item is not as described or is below satisfactory quality. Some high street stores do offer a more generous returns policy, but you should always check when you buy. 

No Refunds

You do have the right to return goods to a shop for a remedy if the item does not meet its description or they are faulty. You can return an item to an on-line retailer for a refund up to 14 days after delivery, even if there is nothing wrong with the item.

The quicker you return an item to a shop, the easier it can be to sort out any problems. You will need to have the receipt or some other form of proof of purchase to show where and when the item was bought.