The rules and laws around getting refunds seem to be confusing, so much so that most people do not understand whether they would be entitled to get their money back for a purchase or not. The truth is that every situation is different, and it’s important that you know what rights you have for your circumstances.
If the goods are faulty
If the item you have bought has a fault, or develops a fault after you have made the purchase then you are protected under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and are entitled to a refund, though this usually only lasts for a set period of time. If the item is faulty when it is purchased then you have the right to return it direct to the retailer where you bought it. This is also the case if a fault develops on the item within a set time-frame - legally this is a year but most stores offer a one year guarantee. However, they aren’t legally obliged to offer a year and anything over six months may fall under the manufacturer's warranty.
It’s worth saying that if the fault develops after one year and you have not purchased an extended warranty that you may have to accept that you won’t get your money back. If you find yourself in this case, for example with a mobile phone, you may still be able to find somewhere where you can stuff for free, such as an electronics recycling website.
If bought in store, you may be surprised to know that you do not have an automatic right to a refund for a product just because you have changed your mind. Of course, many retailers may offer you one at their discretion, but you should not count on this being the case. It’s more common that you would be offered a gift card for the same amount, provided can provide proof of purchase.
If bought online, you have a seven day period where you can change your mind. This has to be seven days from the moment the order was placed. The item would also have to be returned in exactly the same condition as when sent to you, e.g. if you bought an item which was sealed like a computer game, you wouldn’t be allowed to return it if the shrink-wrap has been removed.
In the event when the goods have come to you and they have been damaged in their transit then you have the right to a full refund direct with the retailer. This is because it is their responsibility to ensure your purchase gets to you in the condition it is intended. They will have taken out insurance with the delivery company in the event that their products do get damaged, so do not accept it if they tell you to contact the courier instead.
With all of the above, it is worth stating that your rights are only in place if you have proof of purchase. This doesn’t necessarily need to be the original receipt - if you don’t have this you can go back through your credit/debit card statements to find when and where you bought it.