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Festive shopping and post-Christmas tips

Festive shopping and post-Christmas tips for consumers

Consumer Affairs Minister Judith Tizard says Christmas is a special and fun time for getting together with family and friends and exchanging gifts, but it’s important to know what to do when a gift is “not quite right”.

"We put lots of time and effort into finding gifts that we hope our loved ones will enjoy, we’re usually successful. But sometimes we don't quite get it right. Perhaps you already have the gift, maybe the colour wasn't quite you, or you'd like to swap for something more suitable. What can you do?”

Judith Tizard says contrary to popular belief, retailers are not obliged by law to refund or exchange gifts if they're the wrong size or colour, or the gift recipient doesn’t like them. “But many retailers choose to do so. You could take the gift back and ask. If they're not keen on giving you a refund, see if they'll exchange the gift, or give you a credit note for the store.”

Retailers, however, may be obliged to refund, replace, or repair gifts if they are faulty or damaged, said Judith Tizard. “When you buy something, the law says it must be of acceptable quality. That means it must be fit for its normal purpose, acceptable in finish and appearance, free from minor defects, safe, and last a reasonable time for that type of good.”

Exchanges and returns

Here are some tips if you find yourself in a situation where you want or need to exchange or return a gift:

* Check whether the sender thoughtfully gave you an exchange card. Exchange cards should allow you to swap the goods for something of equal value from that store. Make sure you use them promptly as exchange cards may only be valid for a short time after Christmas.

* Didn't get an exchange card? If you know where the gift came from, and it is in its original wrapping, take it back to the store to ask whether they will agree to exchange it. Otherwise, you may have to ask the person who gave you the gift if they have the receipt or could exchange it for you. And remember to keep your receipts, too.

* If a gift turns out to be faulty, the Consumer Guarantees Act gives the recipient of the goods rights to have the goods repaired, or in serious situations may give rights to a refund.

* A manufacturer's warranty should apply to you too, even if you didn't buy the goods yourself.

Gift vouchers

Here are some things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your gift vouchers:

* Keep gift vouchers in a safe place. It's best to use them as soon as you get them. If not, you may find that the store no longer stocks what interested you in the first place, the store may have been sold to another company which does not have to honour the gift voucher, or the gift voucher may have expired. * Always check for expiry dates and other terms and conditions of use. These should all be printed on the voucher itself. And remember: gift vouchers can't be exchanged for cash, only for goods and services.

"These tips should help consumers to get the maximum satisfaction and enjoyment out of the gift-giving season," says Judith Tizard.

More information for consumers is available on the Ministry of Consumer Affairs website: www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz

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