Shops don’t have to take back unwanted gifts

While current legislation guarantees consumers the right to purchase goods without mistakes, it does not require stores to give a refund simply because the product is no longer liked or the wrong size.

Shopping online, illustrative stock photo.Shopping online, illustrative stock photo. (Source: Stanislava Smadišová)

A glossary of words as well as exercise related to this article are also published online.

The recent Christmas season means mass shopping for gifts which are not always met with enthusiasm on the part of the receiver. Sellers, however, are not obliged to take back products that a client no longer wants.

“If the merchandise is bought in so-called brick-and-mortar stores, there is no legislation that would oblige the seller to take back such a good,” Danuša Krkošová, spokeperson of the Slovak Trade Inspection (SOI), told The Slovak Spectator. Some shops do take back unwanted gifts, but it is usually part of their trade policy rather than an obligation.

If the purchased good is too small or big, or the person it was given to simply does not like it, groundless exchange always depends on an agreement between the vendor and customer.

Ownership rights pass from the seller to the buyer during the purchase of merchandise in a traditional brick-and-mortar store where the consumer can inspect the product for sale.

The situation is different in the case of buying online or by means of remote communication. Based on the Consumer Protection Act, the consumer is allowed to cancel the contract within 14 days. During this period, the seller is obliged to take the merchandise back and return money to the customer.

The currently effective laws guarantee that customers also have the right to purchase flawless goods and to own them without quality issues throughout the entire warranty period. A reclamation can be applied within three months for the repair and modification of tangible goods, 18 months for renovation/reconstruction work, two years for sold goods and ordered things, and three years for the construction of buildings.

Mistakes or shortcomings in a product or service should be pointed out immediately from the time a flaw has been detected. Then it should be fixed in a timely manner for free, the law stipulates. However, if the mistake is irreparable and hinders the proper use of the item for the given purpose, the customer is entitled to exchange the product or to withdraw from the contract.

The Spectator College is a programme designed to support the study and teaching of English in Slovakia, as well as to inspire interest in important public issues among young people. The project was created by The Slovak Spectator in cooperation with their exclusive partner – the Leaf Academy.

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