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

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 15 Jun 2018 | 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]
Hi, I have purchased 2 dresses online from voodoo boutique, the dresses don’t fit so I have returned them for a refund. They are telling me that I cannot have a refund as it was a sale item, it said nothing about this when I purchased them and nothing in my confirmation email, only when I asked for a refund an email was sent stating this. Surely this isn’t right?
Kim - 15-Jun-18 @ 4:11 PM
Tristin - Your Question:
Hi. My daughter purchased her prom dress from a site called Lolipromdress and although based in China it looked like a legitimate site. We measured my daughter and the dress arrived some three weeks later. When she put the dress on it it was many inches too small and there was no way she could even think of zipping the dress up. Her waist is 33" and the dress waist is 30", her hips are 41" and the dress is 38". I have been in contact with them to try and get a refund but they say the measurements I gave them were incorrect. I have sent pics of my daughter in the dress, pics of me roughly measuring her (not exact measurements as the was fully clothed, it was more to show them I knew where my daughters body parts are). They now tell me the order I gave them I had said 29" waist and it's my fault. We can not get a copy of the measurements we originally and sent and they are not forth coming with providing me a confirmation of the initial measurements we sent.Is there anything we can do to get a part or full refund? My daughter has learnt a very expensive lesson. Many thanks

Our Response:
Unfortunately as the site is not based in the UK you cannot easily call on the UK/EU consumer rights legislation to help you. You could try contacting your credit card to see if they can help?
OnlineShoppingRights - 5-Jun-18 @ 11:02 AM
Hi.My daughter purchased her prom dress from a site called Lolipromdress and although based in China it looked like a legitimate site.We measured my daughter and the dress arrived some three weeks later.When she put the dress on it it was many inches too small and there was no way she could even think of zipping the dress up. Her waist is 33" and the dress waist is 30", her hips are 41" and the dress is 38".I have been in contact with them to try and get a refund but they say the measurements I gave them were incorrect.I have sent pics of my daughter in the dress, pics of me roughly measuring her (not exact measurements as the was fully clothed, it was more to show them I knew where my daughters body parts are).They now tell me the order I gave them I had said 29" waist and it's my fault. We can not get a copy of the measurements we originally and sent and they are not forth comingwith providing me a confirmation of the initial measurements we sent. Is there anything we can do to get a part or full refund?My daughter has learnt a very expensive lesson. Many thanks
Tristin - 4-Jun-18 @ 10:52 AM
Piggin - Your Question:
I also have purchased a prom dress online from Stacees UK. I went on line and was immediately asked to chat. I asked there chat line if I could return the dress if it didn't fit my granddaughter and was told yes. II ordered the size 8 dress. It took some time to arrive and I had to chase it up. When it arrived on Friday my granddaughter tried it on. It was hanging on the waist and the tight fitted sleeves were not tight fitting. I immediately contacted Stacees to arrange a refund only now, to be told I can't get a refund and could I take a picture of my granddaughter wearing the dress so they could fix it. I don't want it fixed as my granddaughter feels its nothing like it was advertised as. She also doesn't want a photo of her to be sent, I totally agree with her in light of not knowing who would be viewing this photo of a 16 year old girl. How do we stand with the law in getting this refund. I did contact them the day after arrival so within there 7 day policy.

Our Response:
We think perhaps this company is purporting to be UK based where in fact they are not. They have not responded to our request for more information. Unfortunately the UK consumer legislation does not apply outside of the UK (likewise EU regs only apply in the EU). We can't really offer any advice except to see if you can find a local seamstress to alter it. Remember to review Stacees UK online where you can, so other users do not fall into the same trap.
OnlineShoppingRights - 25-Apr-18 @ 11:36 AM
I also have purchased a prom dress online from Stacees UK. I went on line and was immediately asked to chat. I asked there chat line if I could return the dress if it didn't fit my granddaughter and was told yes. II ordered the size 8 dress. It took some time to arrive and I had to chase it up. When it arrived on Friday my granddaughter tried it on. It was hanging on the waist and the tight fitted sleeves were not tight fitting. I immediately contacted Stacees to arrange a refund only now, to be told I can't get a refund and could I take a picture of my granddaughter wearing the dress so they could fix it. I don't want it fixed as my granddaughter feels its nothing like it was advertised as. She also doesn't want a photo of her to be sent, I totally agree with her in light of not knowing who would be viewing this photo of a 16 year old girl. How do we stand with the law in getting this refund. I did contact them the day after arrival so within there 7 day policy.
Piggin - 24-Apr-18 @ 10:51 AM
I brought a jacket via an clothing app, I ordered a uk size 20 using the apps size guide the jacket arrived and is a uk size 10 I have contacted the seller and request returns address and refund but they expect me to pay to return it to China, they have not sent me what I ordered surely it’s their fault and they should pay for the return?
Lou - 21-Apr-18 @ 11:38 AM
H - Your Question:
Hi I brought an Asian outfit from an online outlet that sells via Facebook called mandymini boutique.I saw a picture on my feed and ordered it but on arrival the colour is so different that I am trying to return it.The seller says that on her Facebook page it states no refunds/exchanges but I ordered it by just looking at the picture and messaging her - didn’t look at the full Facebook page.The seller has said that the colour in the picture is different due to the studio lighting - which is my reason for wanting to return the item. Please advise.

Our Response:
If it's not an official website/business, there really isn't much you can do about this using Consumer Laws. In a private sale, they only thing that laws says, is that the items must match their description. A difference in colour due to lighting or reproduction on the a computer/phone screen may not be covered..
OnlineShoppingRights - 20-Apr-18 @ 10:29 AM
I bought a dress online and when it arrived it had a black mark down the front of it. I returned it with the tags on and within the 14 day return policy. They have rejected my return saying their quality control have reviewed the item and are not giving me the refund and say I should have informed them of the mark ASAP. Is there any way I can dispute this? Surely the quality control should check the items before sending them out to customers..
Gem - 19-Apr-18 @ 9:12 AM
Hi, I returned an online clothing order and they received the items back on the 18th day since the order date, however it was only 13 days since I received the items. They will not offer me a full cash refund (only gift vouchers which I do not want), as they say their returns policy only offers a full cash refund if the items are received back within 18 days of order (they then state the returned items must be received on or before the 17th day). Do I have any rights in getting a full refund as I have read in many places that I have a 14 day cooling off period from when I RECIEVED the goods (which were then back with them with in 13 days). Do I have an argument to get a full cash refund? Many thanks, Craig
Craigio - 18-Apr-18 @ 9:47 PM
Hi I brought an Asian outfit from an online outlet that sells via Facebook called mandymini boutique. I saw a picture on my feed and ordered it but on arrival the colour is so different that I am trying to return it. The seller says that on her Facebook page it states no refunds/exchanges but I ordered it by just looking at the picture and messaging her - didn’t look at the full Facebook page. The seller has said that the colour in the picture is different due to the studio lighting - which is my reason for wanting to return the item. Please advise.
H - 17-Apr-18 @ 8:53 PM
Chelle - Your Question:
I ordered a prom dress from staceesuk online at a cost of £109. The dress arrived and has white marks on the front and back. Requested a return via the website but have been told they will give me £15 as dress is ok. I have sent pics of the marks but they are insisting the dress is no good to them if I return and I should keep it. I do not want to wash it as this may effect the dress and make it worse. Having read other return reviews, it looks like it is a company in China, using a co.uk address. What are my rights please?

Our Response:
Have you checked the postal address on the website? If it's operating from the UK, it is obliged to follow UK consumer laws and should refund you for faulty items. If not, unfortunately, there is little you can do. We've just had a look at their website and there are no address details. A UK or EU registered business MUST display on its website: the business name; place of registration; registered number; registered office address and if it is a member of a trade association. For sole traders and partnerships, the address of the principle place of business must be displayed. It looks as though this website is purporting to be operating out of the UK but in fact it is not.
OnlineShoppingRights - 16-Apr-18 @ 11:12 AM
I ordered a prom dress from staceesuk online at a cost of £109. The dress arrived and has white marks on the front and back. Requested a return via the website but have been told they will give me £15 as dress is ok. I have sent pics of the marks but they are insisting the dress is no good to them if I return and I should keep it. I do not want to wash it as this may effect the dress and make it worse. Having read other return reviews, it looks like it is a company in China, using a co.uk address. What are my rights please?
Chelle - 13-Apr-18 @ 10:18 AM
JH - Your Question:
I bought 2 dresses in the sale from an online shop. When I have tried to return one of them, they said they do not refund sale items. I believe this to be against Consumer Contracts Regulations (ie I have 14 days to change my mind), am I right? It does say on their site that they don't accept returns on sales, but I also think that stating this is against regulations. Is that correct too?Thanks in advance

Our Response:
The retailer should accept returns of unwanted items within the required 14 day period and offer a refund of the price you paid.
OnlineShoppingRights - 9-Apr-18 @ 10:37 AM
I bought 2 dresses in the sale from an online shop. When I have tried to return one of them, they said they do not refund sale items. I believe this to be against Consumer Contracts Regulations (ie I have 14 days to change my mind), am I right? It does say on their site that they don't accept returns on sales, but I also think that stating this is against regulations. Is that correct too? Thanks in advance
JH - 6-Apr-18 @ 3:05 PM
Mary- Your Question:
I have recently ordered a tshirt online from a well known company and it arrived the other day. I opened the packet and had hold of the tshirt and before I went to try it on I noticed my hands were itchy and my eyes felt itchy as well. I looked down at the tshirt and it was covered in animal hair, I suffer from alergies to some animal hairs (mainly cats) and the hair on the tshirt caused a reaction. My arms/Wrists have come out in a rash as they were in direct contact with the tshirt. I put it back in its bag and contacted the company the following day, they wanted photographic evidence of my reaction and the state of the tshirt. When I took the photos of the tshirt it triggered my alergies again. I have yet to hear back from the company regarding this issue and I am unsure of what my rights are with the whole situation.

Our Response:
If you ordered it from an online retailer, you should be able to simply return it anyway as you have the right to cancel at any time from the moment you place your online order, and up to 14 days from the day you receive your goods.Just inform the retailerthat you are returning the item for a full refund (their website should give details of how to do this).
OnlineShoppingRights - 27-Mar-18 @ 11:55 AM
I have recently ordered a tshirt online from a well known company and it arrived the other day. I opened the packet and had hold of the tshirt and before I went to try it on I noticed my hands were itchy and my eyes felt itchy as well. I looked down at the tshirt and it was covered in animal hair, I suffer from alergies to some animal hairs (mainly cats) and the hair on the tshirt caused a reaction. My arms/Wrists have come out in a rash as they were in direct contact with the tshirt. I put it back in its bag and contacted the company the following day, they wanted photographic evidence of my reaction and the state of the tshirt. When I took the photos of the tshirt it triggered my alergies again. I have yet to hear back from the company regarding this issue and I am unsure of what my rights are with the whole situation.
Mary - 24-Mar-18 @ 10:31 AM
My son bought a polo shirt online and received product around 6th February 2018, he has worn the polo 3/4 times, he has just noticed material coming away at the seams causing a small hole, I've contacted seller and they've offered 1) I get item repaired and they'll refund cost 2) They will refund 10% value of polo 3) I can return item and they'llsend onto brand/manufacturer to be assessed which would take 3months Could you please let me know if 10% is right as the item cost €110 and is just over 4weeks old?? And if I send item back should I have to wait 3 months ?? Thanks
Loulaw - 21-Mar-18 @ 9:28 PM
D - Your Question:
Hi,I ordered 3 bikinis costing over £100 I’m usually a size 6-8 which I ordered but also ordered one a size 8-10 to see which fit better. I am aware that all items of clothing can vary in sizes etc but all bikinis including the 8-10 were absolutely tiny on me, only tried the tops not the bottoms. On my delivery note it states no returns on swimwear, jewellery, lingerie or sale items and this was not obvious on the website when ordering! All I want to do is return them for bigger sizes but now I’m stuck with three bikinis I can’t wear and over £100 wasted! Surely a customer has rights to return all items if they don’t fit? This has really put my off buying online I’ve never had this issue before with any other online website, please help!Thanks.

Our Response:
Underwear/swimwear and some types of jewellery can be excluded from the right to return goods online. Many retailers will allow it, so the best thing to do is always check a returns policy before purchasing. If you think the company has misrepresented the sizing, and therefore sold you an item that was effectively "not as described" or "fit for purpose" - you might be able to get a refund under the Consumer Rights Act (faulty goods).
OnlineShoppingRights - 13-Mar-18 @ 10:37 AM
I sold a dress on eBay. The buyer did not follow the washing instructions (dry clean only) and then complained that the zip was faulty. Ebay gave the buyer a refund. The dress is ruined and the belt is now a completely different colour to the dress. Is this right that I have to refund even if the buyer does not follow washing instructions?
Em3 - 11-Mar-18 @ 8:28 AM
Hi, I ordered 3 bikinis costing over £100 I’m usually a size 6-8 which I ordered but also ordered one a size 8-10 to see which fit better. I am aware that all items of clothing can vary in sizes etc but all bikinis including the 8-10 were absolutely tiny on me, only tried the tops not the bottoms. On my delivery note it states no returns on swimwear, jewellery, lingerie or sale items and this was not obvious on the website when ordering! All I want to do is return them for bigger sizes but now I’m stuck with three bikinis I can’t wear and over £100 wasted! Surely a customer has rights to return all items if they don’t fit? This has really put my off buying online I’ve never had this issue before with any other online website, please help! Thanks.
D - 10-Mar-18 @ 6:20 PM
Tez - Your Question:
HiI ordered a playsuit from misguided and found that after only wearing the item for a few hours it had a big hole at the back next to the zip. Should I wash the item before returning it if it has been worn? To do this I would need to take the tag off and not sure if this would invalidate my refund.Or should I not bother washing it and leave the tag on? Im just not sure if washing it would invalidate my refund they may think the washing machine has caused the hole. Any advice would be greatly appreciatedThank you Thanks

Our Response:
No, just contact the retailer and say it's got a hole in it so is faulty/not fit for purpose and you want to return it, assuming you didn't cause the hole yourself. You can explain that you wore it for a few hours (we're not sure why you wore it with the tag still on).
OnlineShoppingRights - 6-Mar-18 @ 3:10 PM
Nicole - Your Question:
I bought 2 bridemaids dresses from online site Angelgown. One of the dresses is to tight so I asked could I return it for a bigger size. They said that they could me me another for 70%of the price of the dress for material fees. I said I don't need 3 dress can I return the one an not pay the price of a new dress. They said I could keep it or resell it myself. I showed that it stated on they website that if size isn't right they offer a refund. So they said they can give me a refund. I said can I get a refund then an purchase the same dress in a bigger size. They said I cud have a refund but will not be able to get another dress as I wud have to choose a refund or the dress to be maid again at a reduced price. I said can I get a refund for the 2 bridemaids dress then. They said yes. So I asked what do I need to do then and Wats the address to return the dresses. They then said they can offer me a refund of 8%of the cost and I can keep the dresses. What should I do?

Our Response:
We're assuming these dresses were made to order based on measurements you sent? The usual consumer rights do not apply to bespoke items. It sounds as though the retailer has been quite fair in offering you a refund for dress as detailed on their website. If the items were not made to order, then you can return any of them within 14 days.
OnlineShoppingRights - 6-Mar-18 @ 12:58 PM
Hi I ordered a playsuit from misguided and found that after only wearing the item for a few hours it had a big hole at the back next to the zip. Should I wash the item before returning it if it has been worn? To do this I would need to take the tag off and not sure if this would invalidate my refund. Or should I not bother washing it and leave the tag on? Im just not sure if washing it would invalidate my refund they may think the washing machine has caused the hole. Any advice would be greatly appreciated Thank you Thanks
Tez - 4-Mar-18 @ 8:59 PM
I bought 2 bridemaids dresses from online site Angelgown. One of the dresses isto tight so I asked could I return it for a bigger size. They said that they could me me another for 70%of the price of the dress for material fees. I said I don't need 3 dress can I return the one an not pay the price of a new dress. They said I could keep it or resell it myself . I showed that it stated on they website that if size isn't right they offer a refund. So they said they can give me a refund. I said can I get a refund then an purchase the same dress in a bigger size. They said I cud have a refund but will not be able to get another dress as I wud have to choose a refund or the dress to be maid again at a reduced price. I said can I get a refund for the 2 bridemaids dress then. They said yes . So I asked what do I need to do then and Wats the address to return the dresses. They then said they can offer me a refund of 8%of the cost and I can keep the dresses. What should I do?
Nicole - 4-Mar-18 @ 11:34 AM
I bought some trainers online from beastvilla the the 9/2/2018 they took the money on the 12/2. I have contacted the 3 times they sent me a link to track my parcel. I have never received a tracking number from them. So tried to get them on another link they sent me for help but it it’s the available, it was a Birthday present for my son. I ave told me that I am going to contact Facebook that they are on and consumer rights but nothing. Feel I have been conned. Please can you advise me on my next step
Lisa - 1-Mar-18 @ 12:10 PM
I ordered a skirt online, it showed as in stock, the company emailed me an invoice which I had to pay by bank transfer. I paid immediately and after 2 weeks had still not received the skirt.When I emailed the company I was advised the skirt was out of stock so I asked for a full refund.I have received an email from the company advising a full refund will be made within 10 working days.That was 2 weeks ago and still no refund.I phoned the company twice today ( both times spoke to a ‘receptionist’ who said there was no answer in the accounts department and they would call me back.Still waiting.... what can I do next?
Janny - 23-Feb-18 @ 5:39 PM
Craig - Your Question:
Hi. I am just after some advice regarding an item of clothing I purchased online. Upon receipt of the item I discovered that it was a bit too small for me. I emailed the selling company and asked if I could return the item for a bigger size. They eventually replied saying that I could not return the item but would be given a code to enter when ordering a replacement. I went through the online process again only to discover that the credit given was only around a 30% reduction of the price I originally paid. I have emailed the company (Alex Gifts) again stating my dissatisfaction with this. I have so far still not heard anything back from them. I have an item that I payed in full for, that is no use to me as it’s too small and am being asked to pay for one that will fit, albeit at a reduced price. Please advise, regards, Craig Studd.

Our Response:
Is this an online retailer/registered company or a private seller via ebay/facebook etc? If the former then you are entitled to a full refund (though the retailer can take off delivery charges, but most will refund the delivery charge as well).
OnlineShoppingRights - 19-Feb-18 @ 3:25 PM
Hi. I am just after some advice regarding an item of clothing I purchased online. Upon receipt of the item I discovered that it was a bit too small for me. I emailed the selling company and asked if I could return the item for a bigger size. They eventually replied saying that I could not return the item but would be given a code to enter when ordering a replacement. I went through the online process again only to discover that the credit given was only around a 30% reduction of the price I originally paid. I have emailed the company (Alex Gifts) again stating my dissatisfaction with this. I have so far still not heard anything back from them. I have an item that i payed in full for, that is no use to me as it’s too small and am being asked to pay for one that will fit, albeit at a reduced price. Please advise, regards, Craig Studd.
Craig - 19-Feb-18 @ 2:05 PM
Demi - Your Question:
I bought a dress online for £30 and did not like it so sent it back and requested a refund as indicated, I also obtained proof of postage. 3 months later I have still not received a refund, I have sent several emails and direct messages the company on Facebook and have been ignored. I cannot see a contact number on their website. How can I get my money back?

Our Response:
A retailer must by law, provide a business name, contact details and address. So, send a letter to the address, saying that the laws says the retailer must refund the customer within 14 days of receiving the goods back. Send a photocopy of your proof of postage. If you do not receive a refund within a week of sending the letter, say you are going to take it to the small claims court. Never underestimate the power of social media/publicity, so make sure you post reviews about this wherever you can.
OnlineShoppingRights - 6-Feb-18 @ 11:12 AM
I bought a dress online for £30 and did not like it so sent it back and requested a refund as indicated, I also obtained proof of postage. 3 months later I have still not received a refund, I have sent several emails and direct messages the company on Facebook and have been ignored. I cannot see a contact number on their website.How can I get my money back?
Demi - 4-Feb-18 @ 7:41 PM
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