Can you take rubbish presents back?

We look at UAE retail laws when it comes to returning unwanted gifts


Been given the most hideous jumper as a gift? Or a great dress but in the wrong size? Then learn about your rights when it comes to retailers’ policies on returning undesirable items.

With the silly season upon us, the retail world braces itself for an onslaught of returns, exchanges and abuse. The art of gift-giving is never precise. Of course things are going to need to be returned, but to what extent? Aunt Mary isn’t going to think you want to return the beautiful plastic-flower sandals she so lovingly purchased for you, so of course she wouldn’t pass on the receipt.

This can lead to frustration and waste, so what are the options? Knowing your rights when it comes to returning a less-than favourable present at this time of year could save you frustration and a lot more space in your storage cupboards.

The law

The Consumer Protection Department oversees retail law and consumer acts. The UAE law number 24 of 2006, on Customer Protection, stipulates (as per that every customer has:

• The right to safety – ‘To be protected from products that may cause harm to a consumer’s health and safety.’
• The right to information – ‘To know accurate information concerning goods and services.’
• The right to choose – ‘The right to have multiple options of good quality items and services with competitive prices.’

These laws have been implemented to protect both retailers and consumers through health, safety and fair pricing. The government has a Consumer Protection division in the Department of Economic Development, to oversee the legislation and ensure retailers adhere to it.

Basically, if the product is damaged or does not do what it was advertised to do, you are entitled to a repair or refund. If you simply change your mind, it’s at the retailer’s discretion whether you receive a refund or credit. You are not legally entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind or don’t want a gift. These laws are similar to laws in other countries, where consumers are protected from faulty goods. It’s best to clarify with retailers at the time of purchase as to exactly what you can return and how.

The big brands

This mammoth company manages about 55 brands, including H&M, Next, Payless Shoes, Topshop, Footlocker, Debenhams, The Body Shop – and the list goes on. Its policy is company-wide meaning all UAE Alshaya-managed brands adhere to the same returns policy. Alshaya does not do refunds based on you changing your mind. This is completely legal. They do offer credit for items returned though, which can be used at any Alshaya store.

Splash, Max, Lipsy, Iconic and more are all managed by Landmark. Landmark has its returns policy published for all to see and consult with on its website. Landmark offers refunds on goods within 30 days of purchase, with the receipt, provided they are in original condition. This excludes items such as underwear and socks.

Managed by the Al-Futtaim group, Ikea has its own returns policy. Provided items are unopened, consumers are entitled to a refund or exchange within 30 days, they can be returned to any UAE Ikea. Customers who have bought faulty items are entitled to a refund or an exchange.

Tips for buying gifts

• Always keep the receipt. You may need it in case of a fault even if it’s the perfect gift for the person you are buying it for.
• Clarify the returns policy with staff at the time of purchase.This could save confusion and frustration at a later date.
• Leave the tags on products being given as gifts.
• Be reasonable, remember the staff don’t write the policy, they just adhere to it.

Have a complaint?

You can contact the Department of Economic Development in Dubai who provide a range of information and advice on consumer protection issues. (600 54 5555).

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