Used deodorant, out of date chocolate and books on conspiracy theories: Which? reveals the UK’s most disappointing gifts 

Used deodorant, out of date chocolate and a book about aliens and doomsday have been named as some of the nation’s worst gifts, as new Which? research reveals one in four people received an unwanted present last Christmas. 

In January 2022, the consumer champion surveyed almost 1,800 members of the public who received a Christmas present and found that a quarter (24%) had received an unwanted or unsuitable gift last Christmas.

When asked what they did with the unwanted gift, one in four (24%) admitted they had given it away, one in seven (15%) exchanged it for something else from the retailer and fewer than 8 per cent returned the gift.

Less popular ways of getting rid of unsuitable gifts included selling it on a marketplace (7%), throwing it away (5%) and giving it back to the person who gifted it (2%).

Which? found women were more likely than men to give away their presents – three in 10 (29%) women decided to find a new home for their disappointing presents compared to one in five (18%) men.

The consumer champion also asked people about the worst Christmas gifts they have ever received. Among them was a dustpan and brush, out of date chocolate and wine, vodka gifted to a pregnant woman and used deodorant.

One respondent said they had received a book by a conspiracy theorist about doomsday and aliens. Another person said they received over £100 of regular dairy chocolate from their grandmother. They said: “I’m allergic to dairy, and if I ate it, it would literally kill me.”

An overwhelming three quarters (74%) of those surveyed said that none of the Christmas presents they received included a gift receipt – meaning they would not be able to exchange any unwanted items for something more suitable.

Most retailers extend their return policy during the festive period, so if you have received a disappointing gift you may be able to exchange it for another item or a voucher if you have a gift receipt. However, customers should carefully consider whether to accept vouchers, as they could become worthless if the retailer goes bust.

The buyer is often the only one who can request a refund or exchange. However, retailers may allow gift recipients to return gifts in exchange for a gift card, voucher or credit note so long as the item was marked as a gift at the time of purchase.

If you do not have a gift receipt, you could consider donating your gift to charity or selling it on a secondhand marketplace such as eBay or Vinted.

Lisa Webb, Which? Consumer Law Expert, said:

“Whether it is out of date food or used toiletries, our research shows a quarter of us have been left wondering how to get rid of an unwanted Christmas gift.

“We’d always advise requesting a gift receipt so the recipient has the option to exchange the present if they are disappointed.

“Often only the buyer can request a refund or exchange. But if the item was marked as a gift when ordered, the retailer’s returns policy may enable a recipient to return or exchange it.”

Notes to editors:

Which? surveyed 1,792 adults in the UK who received a Christmas gift in 2021. Fieldwork was carried out online in January 2022 by Opinium and data has been weighted to be representative of the UK population (aged 18+).

Which? advice on what to do with unwanted gifts is available here:

About Which?

Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.

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