A web site for the developing language teacher

'The less than wond'rous gift' lesson plan

To the print friendly version

Preliminary information

Time: 90 minutes

Level: Intermediate up

To give extensive & intensive reading practice
To extend the stds' store of vocab connected to shopping
To review 1st conditional sentences
To give freer speaking practice

That the stds will be interested in the topic
That the language in the text will not be too difficult.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
Some of the vocabulary may be challenging - stage 2.4 will help with this.

The text from Guardian Unlimited web site.
Tasks - see below


Stage 1 - Intro to the theme of present giving
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Put on the board the following discussion points:

In pairs, discuss the following:

1. Is it better to give rather than receive gifts?

2. What's the best present you've ever given?

3. What's the best present you've ever received? And the worst?

4. What do you do if you receive a present that you don't need or want?

2 In pairs, stds discuss the questions.
3. Feedback - elicit if anyone has ever taken a present back to the shop, what happened?.

Stage 2 - Reading
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Instructions for the extensive reading task - read very quickly, 1 minute to work out the purpose of the article. Elicit some purposes - to provide humour, to give information, to report what happened etc...
2. Handout texts - stds read.
3. Stds compare in pairs >> feedback - to give information - to help the consumer.
4. A
look at the vocabulary in the text - get the stds to underline all vocab connected to shopping - possibly with dictionaries at hand to check meaning. Then ask the stds to put the shopping vocab into groups eg. words to describe materials, types of shops, vocab for talking about returning items pairs >> feedback by getting the stds to put their categories & words on the board, dealing with meaning problems & word stress along the way.
5. More detailed reading, handout the following comprehension task:

Answer the following questions:

1. What two kinds of problematic presents are mentioned?

2. Which, according to the article, is easier to resolve with the shop?

3. What's the policy for gifts brought mail order or from the internet?

4. What are the three instances for faulty goods refunds?

5. Why might it be useful to be polite?

6. Look at the shops at the end of the article & complete the following chart:

Best service + points - points
Worst service    


6. Stds compare in pairs >> feedback - discuss justification for the ranking task.

Stage 3 - Language focus - noticing: first conditional review
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Ask the stds to find & underline all examples of overt & covert first conditional sentences in the text.
2. Stds do the task individually >> compare in pairs >> feedback.
3. Ask stds to see what tenses are used in each clause in the examples they found & which 'if' words are present.
4. Stds do the task individually >> compare in pairs >> feedback& general analysis to bring it all together.
You might want to give some controlled written practice - a gap fill task.....

Stage 4 - Speaking practice
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Elicit the deferent option when returning an item to a shop - exchange, refund, credit note......Set up the following roleplays - you could rotate them so that all do each of them. You might like to look at language areas that might come up in the roleplays before beginning - in order to maximise the effectiveness of the speaking practice - requesting politely, apologising....
2. Roleplays - take notes.

two friends

a: your friend has just given you a hideous jumper. You can tell it cost a lot so you would like to get the money & buy something you really want.
b: you've just bought your friend a lovely new jumper. It also cost quite a lot - you wouldn't spend that much on yourself.

customer - shop manager at Next

customer: you would like to return a jumper that was given to you by a friend. You don't have the receipt but the label of the shop is in the jumper.
shop manager: you are fed up with people bringing their unwanted presents back to the shop. For any returns a receipt is essential.

customer - shop manager at Debenhams

customer: you want to change an alarm clock you were given for Xmas. It doesn't work properly, the alarm goes off at odd times. You haven't got the receipt but you have all of the wrapping & box etc.
shop manager: you can only give exchanges for the same item - no refunds or credit notes.

3. Feedback of the content & the language


The less than wond'rous gift

Christmas looms and soon you will be unwrapping bright packages. But what if the contents are not quite what you had hoped? Nell Boase looks at your consumer rights.

Thursday December 4, 2003

There are two types of problematic presents: those that are faulty and those you just do not like. The way to deal with them will depend on how the gifts were purchased: was it in a shop, online or by mail order?

Unwanted items

The main thing to remember is that shops are not required by law to take back goods simply because you do not like them. By contrast, mail order or internet sellers are required to provide a seven day "cooling off period" to allow you to examine your purchase.

Of course, many shops do offer a returns policy that includes a "no quibble guarantee" or "in-home trial" where you are allowed to return goods, for any reason, within a specified number of days. The shops are legally required to stand by whatever policy they quote.

If the item was purchased online then you should be able to send it back without a reason but beware of return deadlines. Companies are only required to provide a seven-day window, though many are lenient about delays around Christmas as they acknowledge that you may only just have received a gift.

Unless, the retailer specifies otherwise, expect to pay the cost of returning goods. This may be simply the petrol or bus ticket to the store, but with online vendors you may end up paying for recorded delivery - an expensive undertaking for a heavy item. If the online vendor has a high street outlet - such as John Lewis - you can often return the goods to a store.

Faulty items

No matter what returns policy a vendor has, it will not affect your statutory rights. These basic consumer rights are laid down in Sale of Goods Act 1979 (amended by the Sale & Supply of Goods Act 1994) and they refer to faulty or substandard items.

Essentially, if an item is faulty, you are entitled to a full refund or free repair.

There are three other counts on which you are allowed to require a refund:

• The goods are not of satisfactory quality. The quality of goods includes their appearance and finish, their safety and their durability. Goods must be free from defects, even minor ones, except where these defects have been brought to your attention by the seller.

• The goods are not fit for their purposes. This includes any particular purpose mentioned by you to the seller; for example, a computer game that cannot be played on the machine you had specified would be classed as unfit.

• The goods are not as described. If you are told that a shirt is 100% cotton, then it should not turn out to be cotton and polyester

Note that in these cases you do not need to produce a receipt but you may be required to provide proof of purchase. You should be able to use a visa slip or similar.

Points to remember

There is quite a range in companies' returns policies. If you know that your friends and family are always returning presents - no matter how lovingly they have been selected - then do factor this in when you are deciding where to buy your CDs and books.

If it is not too discourteous, ask the giver for the receipt for any gift you want to return; you will be more likely to get a refund or exchange from a shop if you can prove the item came from them. If you are the giver, then keep your receipts and sales documents in case, heaven forbid, someone wants to return one of your gifts.

As ever, being polite will win you points. If you are having problems with a sales assistant, it is always worth asking to speak to a manager as they may have the authority to grant you a refund. Look at the OFT website's section about how to complain for more pointers.

Useful contacts

Office of Fair Trading

Trading standards services are a source of advice and some will provide assistance. You'll find your nearest service listed in the phone book under your local authority.

Citizens Advice Bureaux help with consumer problems and with going to court.

Court Service provides information and advice about the legal process, including the small claims procedure.

Many contractors and suppliers of services belong to trade associations which run arbitration schemes. They are listed in the phone book under "trade associations" or "institutes".

Refund policy examples

Amazon (online retailer)
Their "no quibbles" guarantee means that if for any reason you are unhappy with your purchase, you can return it to them in its original condition, within 30 days of the date you received the item, unopened (with any seals and shrink-wrap intact) and they will issue a full refund for the price you paid for the item. You will have to pay for postage and it is wise to make this recorded delivery.

Cdwow (online retailer)
If for any reason you are unhappy with your purchase, you can return it to them in good condition within 14 days and they will issue a full refund for the price of the item, less a charge of £1.50 for handling, insurance and restocking. They will be happy to refund the purchase price in full if the return is a result of their error or a defect.

Next (clothes shop)
Returns are free of charge. Simply return any unused item within 14 days for a full refund to your account. You can return items through their stores, excluding large, bulky items. Stores cannot exchange items bought online. You should remember to bring your delivery note. You can also return items by courier (they provide a number) or by post using their prepaid label.

John Lewis (department store)
Any item may be returned for any reason within 28 days of the date of despatch so long as it remains in a saleable condition. They will refund the price of the item and delivery to the purchaser.

Debenhams (department store)
If you are anything less than delighted with any gift, fashion or home item for any reason, you can return it unused and in a saleable condition within 28 days of receipt for a full refund.

Argos (catalogue store)
If for any reason you are not completely happy with your purchase, simply return it within 16 days of delivery, unused in its original packaging together with the receipt, to any Argos store. They will exchange it or offer you a full refund

HMV (record shop)
Items purchased in error or unwanted gifts can be returned for exchange provided they are returned in perfect condition, accompanied by a valid Customer Advice Note and within 21 days of receipt. All goods must include original packaging. They are unable to accept items that have been previously exchanged or multiple returns.

This sounds as if they never give full refunds, but they do actually comply with the law by having a "withdrawal" process for online purchases whereby you can cancel your order and return goods up to seven days after having received them.

Virgin (record shop)
Items purchased in error or unwanted gifts can be returned for exchange or vouchers provided they are returned in perfect condition with a receipt and within 28 days.

You may cancel an online order for goods for any reason at any time up to the end of the seventh working day after you place your order even if you have already received the goods. You must not remove the item from its sealed pack and you must pay for the return postage.

To the print friendly version

To the lesson plan index

Back to the top

Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page

Copyright 2000-2016© Developing