It’s that wonderful time of the year again, the streets have been lit, the shops are full and the tills are ringing. Yes, it’s Christmas. However, before you get to sit down with a festive beverage and eat an entire tin of Roses in front of the fire, there’s the small matter of the ever-stressful Christmas shopping. The question is, how do you make the shopping experience most pleasant? How can you best avoid the big queues? Also where do you stand on returning items? With these few small hints and tips, shopping at Christmas will be as pleasant as a turkey, ham and stuffing combination.
Firstly, start early: Yes, we students loathe an early start, but it will pay off in the long run. The shops will be relatively empty, and freshly stocked. The queues will be smaller, and the staff will be remarkably less stressed out. Plus, the earlier you head in, the earlier you get home.
Go shopping during the week: As students, we are truly lucky in the sheer amount of downtime we have between Monday and Friday. Use this to your advantage and avoid weekend shopping at all costs, it’s terrifying.
Make a list: No, seriously. It may be something yer nanny does before she goes down to get her milk and eggs, but in the long run it can only be beneficial. Get a piece of paper, or even use your amazing smart phone and make a list of who to buy for and what to get. Not only will it save time when you’re wandering aimlessly around Eason’s looking for nothing in particular for your distant cousin, it will also speed up the entire process.
So, the scary part of the whole ordeal is over. You’ve braved the shops, you’ve bartered with the cashier and now all that’s left to do is to write your cards and wrap those presents. So where do you stand on returning unwanted gifts, changing sizes and replacing the dreaded duplicate gift?
Remember, for a simple change of mind, legally you are not entitled to a refund. At the discretion of each individual shop, they may offer you a refund, exchange or credit note. Most shops will tell customers about their returns policy around this time of year, but if they don’t, make sure to enquire about it. Unfortunately, you have no right to complain if they didn’t tell you, so clear the air before parting with your hard-earned cash. Also make sure to ask how long their returns policy is valid for. There’s no point rejoicing when a shop offers a refund, only to discover that this is only the case for two weeks after purchase. A lot of retailers will, or have already, extended their returns policy until early January but once again, just ask.
Hang on to your receipts, or ask for a gift receipt. Retailers are not obliged to physically give you a receipt, but most places should be happy to give you one and many will happily provide you with a gift receipt that won’t say how much the item cost.
When you are returning an item most shops will ask for a receipt. This is merely to make sure that it’s yours to be returning, and that it’s theirs to be taking back. Without a receipt many places won’t offer a return. It does not necessarily have to be the receipt given at the time of purchase; the shop will also take a credit or debit card statement. However, without any proof of purchase you are not entitled to anything.
If you’re one of the many who have decided to avoid the high street entirely and shop online, be wary. Online shopping, while incredibly convenient is a minefield for scams. Use your head while shopping online, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. For example, if you’re being offered an iPad for a tenner, think twice before handing your card details over.
When you are lucky enough to clinch a bargain online, the rule for returning items is slightly different from purchasing in store. Due to the distance between yourself and the seller, each customer is entitled to a cooling off period. Within seven days of receiving the product, you have seven days to decide if it amply fits your needs, or is as good as you initially imagined. If you decide against keeping the product, you may legally return it for a full refund. However, be careful not to remove any of the labels or tags that could affect a return. The cooling off period may also be null and void if the product has been specifically made to order, or, as is often the case, is something like a mobile phone that has been used. You wouldn’t buy a mobile phone that has been used for full price, so why should you expect them to take it back.
But, remember, this is the most fun time of the year. Once you get through buying presents, giving them is so lovely. So smile through the queues, and remember the smile that you will get when you give your deadly presents. Then you can have a pint, or ten, ‘tis the season after all.