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Buying Clothing Online: Consumer Rights, Refunds and Returning Clothing Items

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 14 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Buying Clothing Online: Consumer Rights, Refunds And Returning Clothing Items

You might not have the time or inclination to trawl around the high street or shopping mall for hours on end, so you decide that buying your clothes and shoes online is your best bet. However, before you begin to start shopping online for your clothes, you should have a good understanding of your consumer rights, what to do if you decide to ask for a refund or need to return your clothing.

Your Basic Consumer Rights

When buying clothes from a UK-based online store, the first thing to look for are the following key pieces of information:

  • The trader or business owner's name
  • The address (no PO Box numbers) of the trader/retailer
  • An accurate description of the goods and services on sale to you
  • Clear terms and conditions outlining refunds, returns and cancellation policies. If there is no fair (i.e. affordable) returns policy, then the seller is entitled to pay the return shipping. The company's cancellation policy and your rights in relation to cancelling a product or service
Before you decide to buy an item of clothing online, be aware that the seller should also follow these fundamental rules:

  • Accurately describe the item on sale
  • Make sure the item is fit for purpose
  • Make sure the item is made to a satisfactory quality with no faults
In terms of the actual clothing, accurate description translates as being as precise as possible in regards to the size, colour, and materials used to make the clothing. However, you should be aware that there is no standard or official clothing guidelines currently set out for clothes manufacturers, so sizes may vary slightly. Fit for purpose means that the clothing retains the purpose and carries that out the job that it's meant for, such as being waterproof, water resistant or breathable. Satisfactory quality means that the item should be manufactured so that all the seams and stitches are in tact and without flaw.

Further to this, when buying online from a UK-based clothing store, you will also be covered by the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations (2000) and the E-Commerce Regulations. Basically, the key specifications are that:

  • You should have an opportunity check your order and shipping costs before you confirm payment
  • Other prior information, such as terms and conditions, item description, delivery arrangements and cancellation rights should be made available to you before you buy
  • You should be given or sent your payment confirmation, delivery and shipping information, as well as cancellation rights in writing (usually via email when shopping online)
  • You have a 7-day cooling off period of you change your mind about your purchase
But remember that clothes do effectively have their own 'shelf life', and depending on their use and how well you look after them, they will eventually wear out.

Refunds and Returns

Should you choose to have an item personalised or specifically tailored, then the normal consumer rights do not cover you. Once you have completed a contract and made the purchase, you cannot return the item and the trader may not oblige you with a refund.

You should also be aware that there are some clothing items such as briefs, thongs, and swimwear, control and shape wear garments that you may not be able to claim a refund for. The general consensus is that for hygienic purposes, these items should be tried on over other undergarments, and if it is clear or suspected that you haven't done this, then your claim for a refund can be refused.

If you believe that the item you bought is faulty, or doesn't fulfil the description given before you bought, then you are at least entitled to a refund. It's best to check the clothing item as soon as it's received, before wearing it. If you have worn the item, make sure that the fault was not caused by misuse. If you have washed the item, make sure that you have properly followed the care label instructions.

You are also entitled to have the item repaired, and if the price of repair is deemed to be uneconomical or unsatisfactory, then you will be entitled to a refund. However, bear in mind that the trader or seller has the right to deduct a relative proportion of the cost of the item of clothing if it has been worn.

As a goodwill gesture, many retailers will offer a replacement item, but they are not legally obliged to do so. You should know that it is the responsibility of the trader, not the manufacturer, to sort out any problem such as returns or refunds.

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[Add a Comment]
doogie - Your Question:
I recently 3 pieces of swimwear online, a bikini and a swimsuit, but unfortunately nothing fits and I want to return for a refund. The swimwear had the plastic strips fitted, as generally found on such items, and were tried on with underwear, but the company is stating that they do not refund on swimwear for hygiene reasons. I have used many other online clothing companies and have had no problem returning underwear, swimwear etc and wonder if there is anything more I can do to argue that they must refund my money under the distance selling regulations?

Our Response:
Check the terms and conditions. Some items can be excluded from the usual consumer rights legislation because of hygiene and earrings/swimwear or underwear can fall into this category. Most retailers will accept returns of items that have been tried on over another garment and still have the protective labels intact but not all. The retailer should specifically details this in their terms and conditions though.
OnlineShoppingRights - 16-Jun-17 @ 2:35 PM
I recently 3 pieces of swimwear online, a bikini and a swimsuit, but unfortunately nothing fits and I want to return for a refund.The swimwear had the plastic strips fitted, as generally found on such items, and were tried on with underwear, but the company is stating that they do not refund on swimwear for hygiene reasons.I have used many other online clothing companies and have had no problem returning underwear, swimwear etc and wonder if there is anything more I can do to argue that they must refund my money under the distance selling regulations?
doogie - 14-Jun-17 @ 3:10 PM
I ordered a coat from an online retailer but they sent me the wrong size. The site stated French sizing but they send me the equivalent European size. I sent them pictures from the brands website and the brands live chat, where they confirmed that all their items are in European Sizing. The retailer insists that they sent the correct size - and want to charge me postage for the return. I'm worried they will not respond in time for me to send the item back within their 14 day returns policy and then just go quiet. What can I do?
caro - 8-Jun-17 @ 4:28 PM
Does store policy override the law? I purchased a dress online, however, the website will only give me the money back in credit as the item was on sale. When I complained about this as I wanted my money back - it was over £100, they said it was in their policy that they only give credit for sale items. Is this against the law? Thanks, any advice much appreciated.
Emma - 8-Jun-17 @ 1:42 PM
Hi, I bought baby clothes online and they arrived Saturday. They are far to small and must be small made which did not state in the website. My baby is 12 months and you are lucky if a 6 month baby could fit into them. I have seven days for a refund as stated on the website, after that it is an exchange. Looked st the receipt today and there is a typed out writing stating sale-exchange only. This was not from the sale on the website and when I go into the website still it still does not state it's in the sale? Now when I send it back it will just be exchange only but surely this is wrone?
Jmac - 14-May-17 @ 11:37 PM
Sonya - Your Question:
I purchased a dress from select online for my daughter , it came Monday this week she did not like it so my sister took it back to our local select store for refund and was told credit note only ? I can't find their refund policy online what do I do ?? Please help

Our Response:
If she ordered it online, she will have to return it via the online returns instructions...physical stores will not process these and will only offer a credit note. See the website's terms and conditions for more information here
OnlineShoppingRights - 10-May-17 @ 2:42 PM
I purchased a dress from select online for my daughter , it came Monday this week she did not like it so my sister took it back to our local select store for refund and was told credit note only ? I can't find their refund policy online what do I do ?? Please help
Sonya - 10-May-17 @ 8:53 AM
I bought a dress from a dress company that looked so beautiful on the picture and when i got the dress the dress was completely different from the top part ! And when i asked the company for a refund by proof of pictures they said they couldnt refund except 8% of te dress and i worked hard to pay for it is the right with me or them ? And what should i do ?
Miraeid - 8-Mar-17 @ 3:15 PM
I ordered 3 dresses online from a company that is registered in the UK. The dresses were made to measurements in their size chart (S,M,L etc) When received the dresses had sleeves that were 19" long and not the 22" that was stated in their size chart. The pic used to advertise the dress also showed the model wearing long sleeved dress. When I complained about this they said they just work with what the manufacturer provides! Also the stitching is not satisfactory the seams and hems have not been stitched well at all, some parts even left raw. They are refusing to give me my money back!These dresses are not wearable at all. Do I have any rights at all?
Ali - 24-Jan-17 @ 2:34 PM
Murf - Your Question:
I recently returned two dresses I have requested a refund and received an email a month ago informing me that I will receive my refund within 14 days. I have not received my money back. I have emailed the company 4 times and have not had a response. I don't know what to do there is a contact number that I can find on line but no one ever answers.

Our Response:
There should be an address on the website. Write to the company informing them that you have not received your refund and intend to take legal action. Legislation states that refunds for online returns must be paid within 14 calendar days after returning the goods, or evidence that they were returned. If you do not hear back, you may have to take to the small claims court. It's worth contacting Trading Standards and informing them of this company's activity.
OnlineShoppingRights - 20-Jan-17 @ 2:36 PM
I recently returned two dresses I have requested a refund and received an email a month ago informing me that I will receive my refund within 14 days. I have not received my money back. I have emailed the company 4 times and have not had a response. I don't know what to do there is a contact number that I can find on line but no one ever answers.
Murf - 19-Jan-17 @ 2:59 PM
I purchased (on line) a shirt for Christmas for my Granddaughter.This was in late November.The first opportunity for her to check it was when she visited us on 22 December.It was not faulty but was clear that I had ordered the wrong size.I e mailed the retailer to advise them that I would return the item and requested an exchange or refund.I also telephoned and was advised to enclose a note with the returned item and there would not be a problem. I then returned the item in accordance with the retailers on line instructions.This was all on 22 December.I have today received an e mail response from the retailer as follows: "Unfortunately we don't offer an exchange policy at the moment. We allow our customers 14 days to return any Items from the date of receiving them. This gives you time to check your Items out and make sure it is suitable and what you expected. I am sorry, on this occasion it has been more than 14 days since you received your order, meaning we are unable to process any refunds." Canyou please advise whether I am entitled to a refund. Many thanks Anthony Louch
Sam - 25-Dec-16 @ 10:45 AM
Hi bought 22hoodies payment up front Looked at 10/15 of hoodies fine Sent to print and got to last hoodie was all pulled took back to shop saying nothing they can do .printing done in different shop And did half a sleeve but shop where hoodies bought saying a cat pulled on it no animals in print shop or in my house where do I stand cheers
Jammbo - 9-Dec-16 @ 11:19 AM
Unsson - Your Question:
Hi. I returned clothing and have not received a refund. Contacted the seller and they requested proof of postage, which I do not still have. Any advice?

Our Response:
The retailer really needs to have received the returned goods or see evidence that they were returned (eg proof of posting). You are responsible for returning the goods in the correct time and ensuring you have evidence - proof of postage should be sufficient evidence of returning goods. If you've lost your post office receipt but paid for the postage via card, your card statement should be sufficient evidence.
OnlineShoppingRights - 27-Jun-16 @ 2:29 PM
Hi. I returned clothing and have not received a refund. Contacted the seller and they requested proof of postage, which I do not still have. Any advice?
Unsson - 24-Jun-16 @ 8:33 PM
I bought clothes online paid for them was told 21 days for delivery.I then was continually chasing them as didn't receive anything so I asked for my money back and I kept being ignored.I then suddenly revived the goods some 9 weeks later?? Unfortunately the goods did not fit so I sent them back within their 10 day returns policy!!! I sent recorded delivery and have proof of postage and signature that signed for the goods. It was the same name of the woman I paid the money too at the boutique. Now 3 months on she is ignoring me and I have not been refunded how can I get my £75 back??? I feel its very unfair as she has the goods back and my money and ok now I am not the only one that's had this problem!!I work hard for my money and she shouldn't get away with it!!!
leggylou - 12-Sep-15 @ 7:58 AM
@Gem .It is the retailer's repsonsibility to take it up with the manufacturer at least on your behalf.
OnlineShoppingRights - 27-Apr-15 @ 2:54 PM
I bought a dress online, wore it once and washed it via the approved method. The colours ran into each other and now the company refuse to offer me any sort of compensation! Do I have any rights here?
Gem - 22-Apr-15 @ 3:55 PM
@Sue. Yes report this to Trading Standards - if a company cannot uphold their returns policy, they should not be trading.
OnlineShoppingRights - 4-Dec-14 @ 12:30 PM
Hi. I have bought a watch online which was damaged, so i called the retailer and was told to return it for an exchange or refund. More than 2 weeks ago i send it by registered mail. I called them 5 times now every time i am told that the owner of the business will call me, but he never does. Can you advise me what are my options?
sue - 2-Dec-14 @ 5:23 PM
Hi. I have returned 4 clothing items to a company, 2 which I requested exchanges in their place and two which I wanted refunded. Two weeks passed and I has heard nothing, so I checked my bank account, which shows the company have partly refunded me. I have checked my account with the company and their records say my return was incimomplete and only two items were returned. Where do I stand with this, as I only have the proof of postage, not of the contents within the package. I would be grateful for some advice as I cannot contact the company until tomorrow. Many thanks.
ali - 5-Oct-14 @ 8:27 AM
@Spotty21 - if you can prove that the item did not meet its description or that it is not 'fit for purpose' then you can claim a refund or replacement. This could be difficult unless the quality is a really shoddy and the description was wildly inaccurate.
OnlineShoppingRights - 22-Jul-14 @ 2:00 PM
If a product has been personalised but the quality is dissatisfactory is there a right to refund, or does the act of personalising remove this entirely? I ask as some sports kit has been purchased online and personalised, but on delivery has not met quality expectation. Another (non-personalised) item was purchased in the same online order (in error). Should this be refunded by the seller?
Spottsy21 - 22-Jul-14 @ 10:53 AM
Thanks for the advice it is just what I needed to know I have tried to get somewhere woth a dress I bought online I washed it how it stated but the label with the writeing on it faded and the black colour rvan into the pink.I emailed thecompany but they wont help me so thanks.
crazyladyloyd - 20-Jun-14 @ 8:09 PM
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