What is the law around vouchers not refunds for returns in France?

Refund and credit notes depend on whether you have bought online or in store and whether the item is faulty or just not suitable, plus there are certain conditions

12 October 2021

In France, if a shop-bought item is being returned for preference, then there is no legal right to either a refund or a credit voucher Pic: Bborriss.67 / Shutterstock

By Liv Rowland

Reader question: Do shops have the right to give a credit note and not a refund if goods are returned? I bought a big box of staples by credit card, but they were too large and I returned them to the shop. They gave me an avoir (credit note) and refused a refund on my card.

There is no legal right to either a refund or a credit voucher for a shop-bought item that is not faulty but turns out not to suit your needs.

It is different if you buy an item from a French supplier over the internet, in which case you have 14 days from reception to return it without having to give a reason.

Return costs are at your expense unless the seller specified that it will pay them.

This is subject to exceptions, including food, made-to-measure items, ‘immaterial’ products such as software, and unwrapped CDs and DVDs.

Regarding purchases in shops, the only case where a cooling-off period exists is if you bought via consumer credit offered by the shop, in which case you can cancel the credit agreement, and the purchase, within 14 days. This does not, however, apply to offers to pay in several goes.

Many shops do exchange or reimburse items that the customer is not satisfied with, as a commercial gesture, though practices vary depending on the sector.

Giving a voucher is another option sometimes used.

Such gestures are common in clothes shops, household electrics and DIY shops, and some supermarkets.

Even so, usually there are certain conditions, such as showing the till receipt and returning the item within a certain period of time, which varies depending on the shop.

Usually, the item must also not be visibly used/worn and still able to be sold.

If you have unpacked an item, it must be returned with the packaging and instructions, and preferably taken out without tearing the box.

Where reimbursements are offered, some shops only offer it on the bank card that was used for the original purchase.

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