Surviving the January sales

3 min read
December 23, 2021

Our relationship with the sales has changed dramatically more recently. It wasn’t that long ago that people would queue up at 4am on Boxing Day for a shot at 25% off a jacket they never knew they wanted – and would fight for it too. 

These days, we’ve learned that sales don’t always mean bargains – and the high street has faced an onslaught that means the traditional queues are largely things of the past. But despite predictions that Black Friday would be a washout, the pounds did the rounds during the pre-Christmas sales. 

So if you got cash, vouchers and gift cards – or just fancy a bit of shopping – what do you need to remember before you hit the sales? 

Statutory rights

You’ve got lots of statutory rights as a shopper, but they won’t always cover you for not liking something or not having a good time. Most legislation covers faulty goods. Items you want to exchange or return that aren’t faulty should be brought back as soon as possible and the conditions can be set by the shops so check the website for return dates and your rights.

Don’t forget if you bought online then you have a 14-day window to change your mind if you have buyer’s regret (but terms and conditions apply).

Don’t snip until you’re sure

It seems obvious but keep the receipts and tags on items until you are sure you want them. Photograph receipts just in case they get lost in the chaos of the sales and don’t forget to ask for a gift receipt if you’re buying in the sales for someone else.

Gift cards and vouchers

If you got a gift card or voucher for Christmas don’t shove into your purse or wallet and forget about it. They have expiry dates – and they’re not always obvious. Usually, the maximum amount of time you have to use the cards or vouchers is a year (though many are as little as six months). The same goes for experience days and other “event” purchases. Some of the providers of these events have been known to insist you take the experience before the expiry date. 

Don’t let a retailer give you the runaround

If you buy from a retailer and the goods are faulty or don’t work, your contract is with them – not the manufacturer. Don’t be fobbed off. Ask to speak to the manager if you try to take something back and the shop tells you otherwise. If you buy online, the same goes for damaged or undelivered goods. It’s not your problem what the delivery company did – your contract is with the seller. 

Think before you click 

Online sales are often very tempting but watch out for unfamiliar websites and ones based abroad where the consumer rights in that country might be substantially different or harder to pursue if there’s a problem. Never give your card details to a shop you don’t know or recognise and never pay by cheque or direct transfer.

Choose chargeback 

Though debit cards aren’t covered by the Consumer Credit Act, you still have rights if you pay with them. This is known as ‘chargeback’. Chargeback is basically an agreement between the main debit and credit card providers to recall your money if it’s been debited incorrectly or the goods or services you paid for aren’t provided or are misrepresented. Chargeback time limits vary depending on who provides your debit card. So don’t delay if you’re unhappy.

Make a plan of action 

Ever got back from the sales to find you’ve bought a load of old tat you don’t want? Before you go to the sales, make a list of what you really want or need. Research the best value and quality brands. Look at the consumer reviews (remember some of these can be fake so don’t take them all at face value) and prepare a plan covering what you want – and how much you want to spend.

Resolver can help you make a complaint to a retailer for free.

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