If you are uncertain of whether the present you are buying is right for its receiver, check in advance whether the product can be returned or exchanged. Also check the operating instructions and warranty.
Non-defective goods may be returned and the purchase price refunded only if the retailer has granted a right of return or the product has been bought from a distance selling operator.
Presents bought from traditional retailers
A non-defective product bought from a traditional retailer cannot be returned or exchanged for a different one in every case. A present may only be exchanged or returned if
- the seller has granted a right of exchange and return for non-defective products. For businesses, granting this right is completely voluntary, which means that they are free to specify the terms of return and exchange themselves. The seller may, for instance, require that a receipt be presented when the person receiving the present exchanges it for another product, or returns a non-defective product.
- the seller has agreed to a "sale on approval". Under this arrangement, the customer may return the product by a specified date and receive a refund. Right of return, the relevant deadlines and other conditions should be clearly recorded, for instance on the receipt.
A transaction for a product ordered from a seller may be cancelled if the ordered product has not yet been delivered. The seller may be entitled to compensation for this. Order agreements often include provisions concerning the consequences of a breach of agreement.
Cancellation of purchase
Presents bought online or by mail order
In the case of distance selling (telephone sales, mail order sales, online stores and products sold through infomercials on TV), the consumer has the right to inspect the product for a period of 14 days and, if he or she so desires, to cancel the transaction without having to state a reason for doing so. Inspection refers to the right to try out the product in the same manner as you would try it out or on at a traditional store, but does not include using the product as if it were your own property. A notification of cancellation may be made e.g. by email and the product can be returned by mail.
Because there are certain restrictions on right of return, even in the case of distance selling, consumers should always read the terms of agreement carefully. For instance, right of return does not apply to products that are custom made according to the buyer's requirements, or audiovisual recordings or computer software whose sealed package has been opened.
Warranties remain valid even if the ownership of the product is transferred. As such, a warranty is not restricted to the buyer of a product. Loss of a warranty receipt or other document concerning the warranty does not free the seller of his or her liability for defects. If a present is defective, a compensation claim can be filed with the seller, importer or manufacturer even if the present did not come with a warranty in the first place.
Check for restrictions concerning the gift voucher: how long is it valid, in which stores can it be used and whether it can be used to purchase discount products. Also find out whether the gift voucher must be used at one time, if it can be split over several transactions or if a cash refund can be claimed for the unused part of the voucher's value.
When giving securities such as shares or units in mutual funds as presents, the giver should enquire with the bank as to whether there is any protection for the invested capital, what conditions apply to the right of cashing out the securities, and what the tax consequences are.