Return Rules Row: Call for Consistency as Christmas Return Deadlines Vary Wildly Between Stores

The home delivery expert ParcelHero says many retailers’ Christmas returns periods are particularly generous this year – but stores must offer more consistency over the final date for returning unwanted presents.

Says ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT: ‘Major stores’ returns policy have become a lot more flexible over Christmas recently as one more way to gain our custom. But, in fact, they vary so markedly from retailer to retailer that consumers are baffled about how long they actually have to send unwanted items back.’

Explains David: ‘Most items purchased online can be returned within 14 days under the UK’s Consumer Contracts ‘cooling off’ period law. Over Christmas this no quibble returns period has been voluntarily extended by many retailers – but it’s concerning that every store has come up with its own rules, leaving anyone with an unwanted gift to return facing a real puzzle and a lot of small print to read. It’s great that our favourite stores are being so generous; but the different return dates given by retailers are, frankly, all over the place. ParcelHero is calling for retailers to knock their heads together to give some clarity on Christmas returns.’


Here are ParcelHero’s pick of return policies this Christmas:

Amazon: items bought from 1 November can be returned until 31 January – 91 days.

Argos: items bought from 16 October can be returned until 25 January – 101 days

ASOS: items bought from 1 November can be returned until 31 January – 91 days

Debenhams: items bought from 24 October can be returned until 31 January – 99 days

John Lewis: items bought from 21 October can be returned until 28 January – 99 days

M&S: items bought from 10 October can be returned until 11 January – 93 days.


Notes David: ‘Just looking at this list, not only do the final return dates vary considerably, but so do the dates the Christmas returns ‘truce period’ actually began. Christmas started on 10th October at M&S, but November 1st at Amazon and Argos! And a word of warning. If it looks like a gift will need to be returned you will very likely need to ensure you have kept the order confirmation and all packages are still intact with labels, etc’

David also cautions about returning large and heavy items in just their original packing. ‘If you received a large or heavy item as a gift this year, anything from furniture to a new TV, the chances are it arrived using the retailer’s or manufacturer’s specialist service with vehicles designed around transporting such items. That means it will have been delivered in packaging that works perfectly for specially designed vehicles; but perhaps won’t be adequate for being placed with a normal courier network for return. We strongly recommend anyone returning a heavy item reads our guide to packaging and shipping heavy items.


For more information on returning large and heavy items see: