Can I return something without a receipt? Whilst there is no legal obligation for a retailer to refund a purchase without proof of purchase, most will allow an exchange or credit note, so it’s always worth asking.
It’s also important to be aware of your consumer rights, so that you know what you’re entitled to and under what circumstances you are entitled to it. In this article, we’ll explain your rights when it comes to returning an item without a receipt, including what you can do when a purchase is faulty.
Your Rights As A Consumer
As a consumer, you have certain statutory rights. These rights come from two key pieces of legislation: the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Contracts Regulations. Let’s take a look at some of the key points from this legislation.
Consumer Rights Act 2015
The 2015 Consumer Rights Act sets out your statutory rights as a consumer. This legislation covers a wide range of points of law including:
- your rights if goods that you have purchased are faulty
- your rights if digital content that you’ve purchased is faulty
- what should happen if a service doesn’t meet the agreed standards
- how businesses should act in terms of competition
- when contract terms may be unfair
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 marks the first time that digital content has been included in consumer rights legislation. Before this, there was no right to replacement or refund of faulty digital content, but this legislation clarified the law and ensured that digital content was covered.
Consumer Contracts Regulations
The Consumer Contracts Regulations set out your rights when it comes to purchasing goods or services from a distance, including online. This includes:
- The right to cancel an order. For goods, this begins at the point of ordering and ends 14 days from the date you receive the goods. For services, this begins as soon as you enter into the contract and ends 14 days later.
- If digital content is downloaded, you waive your right to cancellation.
- A business is not allowed to charge for anything that they automatically add onto your order, or for anything added to your basket through a pre-ticked box.
What Do I Need To Provide When Returning An Item?
If you need to return an item that you have purchased, you might be wondering what you’ll need to take with you.
When you make a return, you’ll usually need proof that you purchased the item from the store. This is usually provided in the shape of a receipt or an email confirmation of the order. After all, a store will not want to hand over money unless you have proof that you purchased the item from their store.
You’ll usually also be asked to provide the credit or debit card that you originally paid with. This is so that the money can be returned to the original account. If you don’t have this, you may be given store credit in the shape of a gift card or credit note instead of a cash refund.
What If I Don’t Have The Receipt?
It’s easy to lose a receipt. That’s why many stores now offer the option of an electronic receipt, emailed to you after your purchase. However, if you don’t have proof of purchase, you may be wondering whether you are still eligible to return your item.
Whether a store will allow you to return an item without a receipt will depend on their individual policies. This is because there is no statutory right to a refund without proof of its original purchase.
For example, both Halfords and Sainsburys state on their website that they will allow a return without a receipt, providing you can show a bank statement to prove the transaction.
So, if you need to return something but have lost the receipt, it’s always worth checking with the individual store for their policy before assuming that you won’t be able to return the goods.
How Long Do I Have To Return My Unwanted Gift?
There is no legal requirement for stores to refund unwanted gifts. This is because the Consumer Rights Act 2015 only covers items that are faulty, not simply unwanted. However, the majority of stores will accept returns of unwanted gifts, providing you have the receipt.
Stores are not legally required to have a returns policy, although the majority will. If they do have a policy, they are legally obliged to stick to it, so it’s always worth checking their website before you contact the store. If they do have a policy, it should set out the circumstances in which a return will be accepted, as well as the length of time that you have to return the item.
You might also find that some retailers extend their return period during the festive period, during the months of December and January. During this period, you may have longer to return any unwanted gifts for a refund or exchange.
What About Online Purchases?
When you purchase an item online, you benefit from additional consumer rights. This is because the Consumer Contract Regulations provides additional protection for online purchases.
For goods, your right to cancel the order begins as soon as the order is placed and lasts for 14 days after the delivery of the item. This means that you have the right to return your goods for up to 14 days after receipt.
In the case of services, your right to cancel begins as soon as the contract is entered into and lasts for 14 days from this date.
For items bought online or from a distance, there doesn’t need to be a fault for you to return the item – you can simply change your mind. This is because you cannot see or inspect the item when you purchase from a distance.
What Happens If The Item Is Faulty?
If you have purchased goods or digital content that turns out to be faulty, you do not need a receipt to return the item for a refund or exchange. You must return the item within 30 days for this to apply. This is covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Alternatively, you can return the item to the retailer within six months for repair. If they are unable to repair the item, they must offer a full or partial refund.
What If The Items Were Paid For By Credit Card?
When you purchase goods or services using a credit card, you benefit from extra legal protection. This applies to any purchase between the value of £100 and £30,000.
The 1974 Consumer Credit Act makes the credit card provider and the retailer equally responsible for the goods or service that you receive. This means that if you are supplied with faulty goods, or the company goes into administration before you receive the product or service, you are entitled to a refund through your credit card provider.
How Can I Prove I Bought Something Without A Receipt?
It can sometimes be tricky to return items without a receipt. However, there are a few different ways that you may be able to prove that you purchased the item to enable you to make a return.
Proof of purchase can come in a few different forms such as:
- Credit card statements
- Bank statements
- Email confirmation from an online store
If you know the date and time that you purchased the product, the store may even be able to locate the transaction on their computer system and re-print your original receipt.
Is There Anything I Can’t Return?
In the case of faulty goods, you are always entitled to return the item for an exchange or refund under the Consumer Rights Act, providing it is within 30 days of the purchase. However, when you simply change your mind or the goods aren’t as you were expecting, you rely on the individual retailer’s returns policy. This means that many retailers will have limits on what types of item you can return for a refund or exchange.
Goods that may not be eligible for return unless faulty include:
- Make up, toiletries, earrings and underwear
- Perishable goods such as food
- Items that are personalised or bespoke
- CDs, DVDs and computer software with a broken seal
Do Businesses Have To Give Receipts?
Businesses in the UK are not legally obliged to provide receipts for purchases. However, the majority of retailers will provide you with a receipt automatically when you make a purchase. If you are not given a receipt when you make a purchase, you can request a receipt for proof of purchase and the retailer should comply, even if it’s just a handwritten confirmation of your purchase.
If you are not given a receipt, you can still prove your purchase using a bank statement if you paid by credit or debit card if needed at a later date.
Sometimes it’s inevitable that you will need to return an item that you have purchased. Whether it’s a t-shirt that’s too small, an unwanted gift or a faulty mobile phone, occasionally a return is required.
It’s important that you are aware of your consumer rights when it comes to returning goods to a retailer. Whilst you are not legally entitled to a refund or exchange unless the goods are faulty, most retailers have a returns policy that covers these situations, so it’s always a good idea to check their website first to ensure that they accept returns.
In this article, we’ve discussed how to get a refund for goods and services. We’ve also answered the question ‘can I return something without a receipt?’, whilst making you aware of your consumer rights when it comes to exchanges and refunds, whether you bought online or in store.