Tak­ing back a Bo­den gift? Tell the buyer first

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Peter Henn

IT’S that time of the year when un­wanted Christ­mas gifts are dis­creetly ex­changed for some­thing you ac­tu­ally want.

But now grand­chil­dren, neph­ews and nieces plan­ning to take back eye­sore clothes without hurt­ing any­one’s feel­ings must be­ware – for new data rules mean that re­tail­ers may be obliged to in­form the orig­i­nal buyer.

The reg­u­la­tions ap­ply to pur­chases made on­line.

In­ter­net re­tailer Bo­den has even ad­vised peo­ple who wish to re­turn items to tell the buyer in ad­vance to avoid giv­ing them a nasty sur­prise.

When the fash­ion firm was con­tacted by a fa­ther who wanted to re­turn a child’s coat, Bo­den said the buyer would have to be told of a trans­ac­tion on their ac­count ‘due to data pro­tec­tion reg­u­la­tions’.

A cus­tomer ser­vice worker added: ‘You may, there­fore, want to let them know that you are re­turn­ing it in ad­vance. I re­alise this can some- times be a lit­tle sen­si­tive, so I apol­o­gise if this causes any prob­lems.’

Bo­den said the firm had a con­tract with the orig­i­nal buyer when the goods were pur­chased.

It added: ‘If the re­cip­i­ent wishes to ex­change the items or ob­tain a re­fund, we are obliged to in­form the orig­i­nal buyer of any changes to our records and any re­fund would need to be given to the orig­i­nal buyer – this is for var­i­ous le­gal and fraud pre­ven­tion rea­sons.’

A new Data Pro­tec­tion Act was passed last year in re­sponse to the EU-wide Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion, which de­manded t ougher rules among mem­ber na­tions to pro­tect per­sonal data.

One con­se­quence ap­pears to be a de­gree of con­fu­sion.

The Mail on Sun­day asked 30 re­tail­ers about re­turn­ing un­wanted gifts bought over the in­ter­net. Eleven said they would have to in­form the pur­chaser.

Mail on Sun­day con­sumers’ cham­pion Tony Hether­ing­ton said: ‘I am not aware of any data pro­tec­tion rea­son for what you de­scribe. Data pro­tec­tion is about pri­vacy, but this seems the op­po­site of pri­vacy.’

The UK watch­dog body, the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice, said: ‘Data pro­tec­tion law does not set many ab­so­lute rules. Whether and how or­gan­i­sa­tions com­ply de­pends on ex­actly why and how they use the data and there is of­ten more than one way to com­ply.’

Con­sumer ex­pert Mar­tin Lewis of­fered a sug­ges­tion. He said: ‘I can un­der­stand why com­pa­nies are cit­ing data pro­tec­tion, although it does seem to be a lit­tle over the top.

‘The so­lu­tion should be to al­low peo­ple to tick a box on the web­site, say­ing some­thing is a gift. Then the per­son who it was for would get a gift re­ceipt, and it would be eas­ier to ex­change some­thing.’

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