Know Your Rights: Tips for navigating the New Year Sales

What are my consumer rights when I buy something in the sales? Can I return sales items?

Your consumer rights during a sale are exactly the same as at any other time of the year. Your rights do not change just because you bought the item in a sale.

Goods should be of merchantable quality, fit for their intended purpose and as described. If they are not, you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund.

If you are entitled to a refund because there is a fault with goods that you bought at full price, you should be refunded the amount you paid even if they are now on sale at a reduced price.

Shop notices such as "No Refunds" or "No Exchanges" do not limit your rights if you have a complaint about faulty items. Some shops display these notices, particularly during the sales, but this does not take away your rights under consumer protection law if the goods are faulty.

However, you are not entitled to a refund because you change your mind about something you have bought in a shop, whether this is during the sales or at any other time of the year. Many shops do allow you to exchange goods that you have had second thoughts about, but this is at their discretion. It is a good idea to check the shop's refund policy before buying anything.

If you buy goods at full price but change your mind about them at a time that they are available at a reduced price, you may only be offered the reduced amount (if the shop is willing to offer a refund ).

You should always keep your receipts as proof of purchase and the price paid. This does not necessarily have to be the shop receipt. You could show your credit or debit card statement or other documentation that proves it was purchased.

For more information, visit the website of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission at ccpc.ie

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Westmeath Citizens Information Service, which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Call (0761 ) 076610 or call into Athlone CIC, St Marys Square, Athlone. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service on (0761 ) 074000.

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