Guiding consumers since 2009

How to return unwanted Christmas gifts

By Jessica Anne Wood

From an early age it’s drummed into us that ‘It’s the thought that counts’, but what do when you truly don’t want the Christmas gift you got given? Can it be returned?

The short answer is that they can but it really depends on the stores and their policies. They may still insist on a receipt, or depending how far in advance the gift was purchased, may no longer accept returns or refunds on the item. Below are some tips and tricks you can use to make the returns process a little easier.

The item doesn’t fit or is broken

This is probably the easiest time to exchange a gift, as you can ask the person who gave you the gift for the receipt and easily explain the problem. They may even return the gift and get a new item for you.

When it comes to purchasing gifts for others, always keep the receipt because if a problem arises and it needs to be returned it will make the process easier. Most stores usually require a receipt as proof of the purchase for a return, it also shows them the cost of the item, as you may have purchased it on sale. However, remember to keep in mind the returns policy of the store, as some may only allow returns or exchanges up to 30 days after the purchase.

Returning an online purchase

If the item you do not like was purchased online, you may encounter a problem.

Takealot offers customers a 30 day “hassle-free” returns policy after delivery. However, only the customer who purchased the item has the ability to return it, as Takealot is an online store. To return the item, you simply log into your account and follow the steps provided.

“Once a return request has been approved, our friendly Mr D Courier will collect the item at no charge. On arrival at our warehouse, it undergoes a quick quality check before the return can be processed. Once approved, customers have the choice of an account credit, refund or replacement (subject to product availability) within 10 days,” explains Takealot.

To ensure that it is easy to return a gift if necessary, before wrapping it, ensure that you remove all labels and stickers and put them in a safe place, and ensure that the original packaging is retained, to make returning the gift easier.

“Luckily all Takealot order details are recorded and readily available online, so it’s not necessary to worry about keeping any paperwork like proof of delivery or payment. Though we do need all the original accessories, parts, manuals and packaging as these will be required for the return to be accepted. Once a return has been logged online, we’ll issue a Return Reference Number (RRN) for the specific request, which will also be available online and confirmed via email,” explains Takealot.

“Some things, due to the electronic and consumable nature of the products, like eBooks and beauty items, cannot be returned so it’s worth reading up on our detailed returns policy at,” adds Takealot.

According to the Takealot returns policy, unless you are returning a faulty item, it needs to be undamaged and unused. The shopping website offers a few to-do’s for returning a product to Takealot:

  • Your item needs to be packaged safely and securely for protection during transit.
  • It needs to be clearly marked with the Return Reference Number (RRN) on the outside of the parcel.
  • It must include all accessories and parts that were sold with the product.

Returning an item bought in store

While you don’t really have the right to return an item to a store if you are not the purchaser, you can always take a chance if you know where the gift was purchased. However, they may require a receipt to allow for a refund, or even an exchange. If the store is nice enough to offer an exchange without the receipt, you will still need to ensure that you have the original packaging and any attachments or extras that came with the item.

You simply don’t like the gift

Even when a store does have a more lenient returns policy, it is still the purchaser who has the right to return an item, not the receiver of the gift. You will usually need the receipt as proof of purchase, and if the item was bought on credit, this may be refunded to the purchaser’s account and not to you.

Re-gifting or selling the item is always an option. If you can think of someone else who may like the item in question wrap it up and give it away as a gift. Or sell it through the likes of Gumtree, OLX and Let Go.

Be sure of your purchase

When it comes to making the purchase of a gift for another person, always keep in mind what they like and would appreciate. It is easy to buy something that you like and would love to receive as a gift, however, that doesn’t mean the recipient will be happy with the gift.

As Takealot only allows the purchaser to return items, it stresses the importance of making sure that you are 100% sure of the product you are buying for a person prior to making the purchase. “Between your family and friends, you can use our Wish List function to put together gift ideas and from our desktop site you can share them by email so people are sure to order the right colour, size and variety of your dream gift.”

However, the difficulty comes when you encounter people who are difficult to shop for. For these people there is always to option of purchasing a voucher. A number of stores and shopping websites offer vouchers in a range of denominations.

If you’re really unsure, a gift voucher is a quick and easy way to let them choose for themselves. With Takealot, for example, these are delivered immediately, straight to your inbox, fuss-free, and last up to three years. Returning gifts can be awkward and while you may not want to offend the giver, if there is a problem with the gift, the best solution may be to tell them and ask if it is possible to return/exchange it for something else.

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