Received a Chistmas present you don't want? While you obviously have the right to return goods that are faulty or not as described, you may be surprised to discover that you have no legal right to return something simply because you decide you don't want it after all.

Luckily most will give you a refund, or at least a credit note, if you take it back within 28 days.

It is certainly worth checking out the shop's returns policy before you buy.

Note that you can't return some items for hygiene reasons, such as earrings, underwear and bondage accessories.

Here's a rundown of your consumer rights.

Returning goods bought online

If you made your purchases online, the good news is you have greater protection compared to in store.

Under the Consumer Contract Regulations, you can tell a retailer you want to return an item, whether faulty or not, up to 14 days after it arrives.

Some stores will offer an even longer no-quibble returns period, so again it's worth checking returns policies before buying.

You will have a full 14 days to return the item after notifying the retailer, and the store must refund you in full within 14 days of receving it.

However, the exception here is if the goods were personalised. If you get jewellery inscribed or pay to get a holiday photo made into a canvas print, for example, you won’t be entitled to a refund.

Faulty goods

If you buy something and it turns out to be faulty, you have the right to expect the shop to sort it out either by replacing the product or giving you a refund. Some shops will try to refer you back to the manufacturer but this is wrong: it’s the shop that you have the contract with.

The Sale of Goods Act says that goods must be of “satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time”.

So if you buy something that doesn’t work you have the right to a refund or repair.

The biggest disagreements tend to be over what a “reasonable length of time” means as it’s quite subjective.

Some shops might also try to refuse the return of faulty sale goods, but this is wrong. If the goods are faulty you have the same rights whether you bought them full price or at a discount.

Receipts

Some shops say you can only return goods with a receipt, but this isn’t the case with faulty goods. If there’s something wrong with them you only need proof of purchase which might be a bank or credit card statement.

However, if it’s not faulty, you have no rights unless the store displays conditions saying otherwise. Therefore if store policy says you need a receipt to return something, you’ll have to go along with it.

[Read more: Where to sell and swap unwanted Christmas presents]