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Most disappointing Christmas gifts revealed

Surprised boyfriend opening gift given by girlfriend. Happy couple is celebrating Christmas at home. They are sitting on sofa.
Worst Christmas gift ever? Photo: Getty (Morsa Images via Getty Images)

Christmas gifts such as used deodorant, out of date chocolate and books on conspiracy theories are just some of the UK’s most disappointing presents handed out over the festive period.

UK consumer product testing organisation Which? has surveyed nearly 2,000 people to discover the nation's worst gifts given out at Christmas, and the survey reveals that 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 had received an unwanted or unsuitable gift last Christmas.


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Which? asked people about the worst Christmas gifts they have ever received and had responses such as; a dustpan and brush, out of date chocolate and wine, vodka gifted to a pregnant woman and used deodorant.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, however the recipient said: “I’m allergic to dairy, and if I ate it, it would literally kill me.”

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Referring to the unwanted gifts handed out over the festive period 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 Consumer Law Expert, said: “Whether it is out of date food or used toiletries, our research shows a quarter of us have been left wondering how to get rid of an unwanted Christmas gift.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.”

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Which? asked those who were surveyed what they did with their unwanted gifts and one in four admitted they had given it away.

A further one in seven exchanged it for something else from the retailer and fewer than 8% 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 that women were more likely than men to give away their presents, three in 10 women decided to give away their disappointing presents compared to one in five men.

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 disappointing gifts could be exchanged for another item or a voucher.

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However, Which? states that 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.

Although, 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.

Which? advises that 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 (EBAY) or Vinted.

The Which? organisation gives informed consumer choice in the purchase of goods and services by testing products, highlighting inferior products or services and raises awareness of consumer rights and offering independent advice.

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