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Returns Policy and Internet Shopping

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 7 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Returns Policy Internet Shopping Online

You probably already know that shopping for goods and services on the Internet can be exceptionally convenient, gives you much wider choice, and offers significant cost savings. But are you aware of your rights and protections as an Internet shopper in the UK? A recent survey indicates that most online shoppers were not aware of their rights, but were willing to take a chance anyway. The good news is that you might be safer than you think, especially with regards to returns policies and the opportunity to change your mind.

Why Return?

You may be wondering why the returns policy is so important when it comes to internet shopping, especially if you have never returned an item before. When you purchase something in a real shop, it's easy to see what you're buying. However, it's not as easy to evaluate the colour, feel or quality of an item displayed on a computer monitor. This is why consumers have been given the option to reject the item once they see it for real.

One thing to keep in mind is that your consumer rights are fairly solid when you purchase goods from a UK-based company (even if they are importing goods from elsewhere). If you purchase from overseas Internet companies, then you are on shakier legal ground. So it's important to do your homework before completing your purchase. It's possible to have "uk" in the web address without the company actually being located in the UK. Just confirm the seller's location and be aware of where your item is coming from.

Cooling Off & Cancellations

One major advantage that UK online shoppers have over real world buyers is a statutory "cooling-off" period of seven days. When you purchase an item in a brick-and-mortar store, you can generally only return faulty items. If you simply change your mind or decide you don't like the colour, you have no recourse. However, you can cancel an online transaction and receive a refund anytime in the first seven working days for any reason...or no reason. And that's seven working days after you receive the item, so in reality you may have even more time measured from the moment you placed the order.

You are required to notify the seller in writing. Although you have a responsibility to take reasonable care of the items you purchased, the seller cannot demand that items be returned in their original packaging. There are some exceptions to the cooling-off period. Items like software, DVDs and CDs usually cannot be returned. The same goes for perishable goods and anything that was custom made just for you.

The good news is that this cooling-off period also applies to online retailers based elsewhere in the EU. Currently, about 97 percent of UK consumers order from EU-based companies. Transactions with retailers in the rest of the world are not provided with statutory protections. Anytime you consider purchasing from non-EU sellers, you should confirm that their returns policy is acceptable to you.

If you buy an item from a private seller in an online auction, that transaction is exempted from the cooling-off period. The only time you would have a legal option to return your purchase is if the item turns out to be significantly different from the online description.

Online shopping provides you with a high level of choice, convenience and discounts. But the most savvy online consumers are well-informed regarding their rights. Make sure you know where your chosen retailer is based and confirm that their returns policy is in compliance with the law.

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Teds - Your Question:
Hi, I bought a mattress from an online company with free delivery, but when the item arrived it wasn't as pictured on the website, I mean it looks like a completely different mattress, and the only similarities are that They were both coil sprung with a memory foam layer, but the company does state on the website that colour and stitching may vary. So after asking them for a full refund (which they confirmed), they collected the mattress and have now taken a £20 charge out of the refund for the collection fee (which they said they wouldn't do). Is this legal? And is it legal for them to advertise the wrong image for a product but state that colour and stitching may vary for example?

Our Response:
What is different apart from the colour and the stitching? If you can pinpoint something in particular that makes it obvious that it's different, i.e the depth of the mattress or the fabric it's made from etc, then you can return it as "not as described" - this means you shouldn't pay the return costs. If you are simply returning on under consumer rights legislation that means you can return items purchased online within 14 days, you may have to pay return costs.
OnlineShoppingRights - 7-Aug-17 @ 10:48 AM
Hi, I bought a mattress from an online company with free delivery, but when the item arrived it wasn't as pictured on the website, I mean it looks like a completely different mattress, and the only similarities are that They were both coil sprung with a memory foam layer, but the company does state on the website that colour and stitching may vary. So after asking them for a full refund (which they confirmed), they collected the mattress and have now taken a £20 charge out of the refund for the collection fee (which they said they wouldn't do). Is this legal? And is it legal for them to advertise the wrong image for a product but state that colour and stitching may vary for example?
Teds - 3-Aug-17 @ 2:40 AM
JEN - Your Question:
Hi. I ordered a scooter from Halfords online 26/7 and after paying for it realised the delivery date would be longer than I expected so called them straight away to cancel the order. However they are refusing to refund my money until they have received confirmation from the supplier to say the order has been cancelled by themselves and has not been dispatched. Which seems to be taking a long time. Looking for some advice on Halfords refusing a refund until this time.

Our Response:
If the order has been processed, it's simple, just return it via your usual conumer rights to return items bought online. You have only allowed them two days (or maybe less at the time of writing) to establish whether the order has been processed, picked, despatched and to get back to you with a response.
OnlineShoppingRights - 31-Jul-17 @ 2:23 PM
Hi,I recently bought garden willow online. It cost £17.99 with free p&p.When it arrived I realised I needed a 2m height Willis instead of the 1.7m I accidentally ordered. On contacting Primrose they said they would offer a full refund but I would need to pay for p&p. The charge to return product is £17.26.Their response is to sell it on eBay. All I wanted was an exchange.What can I do?
Maxxy - 31-Jul-17 @ 11:52 AM
Hi. I ordered a scooter from Halfords online 26/7and after paying for it realised the delivery date would be longer than I expected so called them straight away to cancel the order. However they are refusing to refund my money until they have received confirmation from the supplier to say the order has been cancelled by themselves and has not been dispatched. Which seems to be taking a long time. Looking for some advice on Halfords refusing a refund until this time.
JEN - 28-Jul-17 @ 12:15 PM
meghan123 - Your Question:
Hi,I recently ordered alot of swimwear from the website 'shein' for choice. But they say they do not accept returns of swimwear. (I was not aware of this when ordering)All of the items are unused and still have the 'hygiene sticker' in them, so do they have to accept the return and give me a refund?thanks.

Our Response:
Yes some retailers extend the "hygiene" exceptions to cover swimwear. As long as they make this clear on their website then there's not a great deal you can do.
OnlineShoppingRights - 28-Jul-17 @ 10:34 AM
Hi, I recently ordered alot of swimwear from the website 'shein' for choice. But they say they do not accept returns of swimwear. (I was not aware of this when ordering) All of the items are unused and still have the 'hygiene sticker' in them, so do they have to accept the return and give me a refund? thanks.
meghan123 - 25-Jul-17 @ 2:32 PM
Simonz - Your Question:
I purchased a dress from an online retailer, it unfortunately didn't fit and I returned within 48 hours, the retailer is refusing a refund as the dress was in the sale and their terms and conditions listed on their site says no refunds will be given on sale items, only a credit note or exchange. Is this correct?

Our Response:
No, any item bought online can be returned unused within 14 days for a full refund.
OnlineShoppingRights - 25-Jul-17 @ 12:53 PM
I purchased a dress from an online retailer, it unfortunately didn't fit and I returned within 48 hours, the retailer is refusing a refund as the dress was in the sale and their terms and conditions listed on their site says no refunds will be given on sale items, only a credit note or exchange. Is this correct?
Simonz - 19-Jul-17 @ 10:35 AM
Marina - Your Question:
Hello.I bought made to order wedding dress from a web site claiming to be a UK-based compny.When I received the trucking number I saw the dress traveled through Germany and France,so I guess it's comming from an Asian country.When I opened the parcel the dress was not as described.In the product description it says satin and it actually is tulle.Also there was detachable part of the dress which is not detachable because it's sewed on to the dress.The cut is mistaken,but I guess this is a bit dificult to argue.I e-mailed the seller with all my concerns and they are refusing a refund.They do offered me a discount for next purchase,which will not happen after my experience.What can I do to get a refund and send the dress back?

Our Response:
If they are claiming to be in the UK, then you should be able to take action under the Consumer Rights Act. Ask them for their UK address. Then write to them giving details of how you feel the item has been incorrectly described. If they are not operating from the UK but claim they are, try the ISPA -you might at least be able prevent other people having the same experience.
OnlineShoppingRights - 3-Jul-17 @ 2:06 PM
Hello. I bought made to order wedding dress from a web site claiming to be a UK-based compny.When I received the trucking number I saw the dress traveled through Germany and France,so I guess it's comming from an Asian country. When I opened the parcel the dress was not as described.In the product description it says satin and it actually is tulle.Also there was detachable part of the dress which is not detachable because it's sewed on to the dress.The cut is mistaken,but I guess this is a bit dificult to argue.I e-mailed the seller with all my concerns and they are refusing a refund.They do offered me a discount for next purchase,which will not happen after my experience.What can I do to get a refund and send the dress back?
Marina - 2-Jul-17 @ 10:45 AM
Sam - Your Question:
I purchased some strip eyelashes and assumed they were made of synthetic material when actually they are human hair, I've contacted the online company to return these and they have declined to refund. On their website it's says all sales are final in the terms and conditions it also says they only accept returns of faulty goods. However they don't mention the composition of their lashes on the website and they ar claiming they don't have to. They also have said due to the nature of the product and hygiene reasons they can't accept the return even though I have not opened them. They are saying they wouldn't be able to re sell. Is this right.

Our Response:
There is an element of caveat emptor here (buyer beware). If the material was important to you at the time of ordering, then maybe you should have investigated this before making the purchase. We're unsure whether eyelashes come under similar exemptions as, for example, earrings for pierced ears, sorry.
OnlineShoppingRights - 15-Jun-17 @ 11:48 AM
HiI bought a woven shopping basket online.When I received it the handles were so small the back of my hand was being scraped by the basket.I contacted the company and sent pictures and they said that they have not had that complaint before and I could send it back for a refund.I paid for the return postage costs.They refunded the cost of the basket only.I emailed and asked for a refund of the postage costs both for sending and returning the bag.The seller said that they had looked at the handles and felt they were fine so the bag was not faulty.As a gesture of goodwill they refunded the postage costs I paid when I purchased the bag but not the £6.00 I paid to return the bag.I pointed out that the photo on their website showed much larger handles but they refused to refund the postage.Is this correct under the law?Thank you
teebag - 14-Jun-17 @ 11:30 PM
I purchased some strip eyelashes and assumed they were made of synthetic material when actually they are human hair, I've contacted the online company to return these and they have declined to refund. On their website it's says all sales are final in the terms and conditions it also says they only accept returns of faulty goods. However they don't mention the composition of their lashes on the website and they ar claiming they don't have to. They also have said due to the nature of the product and hygiene reasons they can't accept the return even though I have not opened them. They are saying they wouldn't be able to re sell. Is this right.
Sam - 12-Jun-17 @ 12:02 PM
Hi I bought a pair of towels from Argos online and collected in store . They offer a 30 day back money guarantee for items in a resaleable condition . As I paid online and collected in store the distance selling regulation does not apply . I cannot have a refund as the bag was torn to be opened . I think this is all unfair as the item was not able to be open with out tearing the bag it came in. Is there anything I can do?
Sue Palam - 29-May-17 @ 3:10 PM
ThirstyKirsty - Your Question:
Hello,I work for an online retailer of used item and wonder, when a customer reports to us that something is faulty, if they can't support their claim with a photo, are we within our rights to ask for the item to be returned if we pay the return postage?Thanks,ThirstyKirsty.

Our Response:
If the goods are faulty within the first 6 months following purchase, it is not up to the consumer to prove their claim, it's up to the retailer to prove the fault wasn't there at the time of purchase/of satisfactory quality/fit for purpose. Yes ask for items to be returned in a convenient way at no cost to them (the retailer must bear the cost of postage when faulty goods are returned).
OnlineShoppingRights - 24-May-17 @ 12:24 PM
Hello, I work for an online retailer of used item and wonder, when a customer reports to us that something is faulty, if they can't support their claim with a photo, are we within our rights to ask for the item to be returned if we pay the return postage? Thanks, ThirstyKirsty.
ThirstyKirsty - 23-May-17 @ 9:31 AM
Abc - Your Question:
Hi, I bought a facial brush originally in Feb 2017 and fast forward to now I have been given another one as a replacement in May 2017. The replacement I have received is damaged, unpresentable, dented and scuffed and even the retailer agrees it is unacceptable yet I have been told I cannot get a refund as I originally bought it in Feb 2017. I received my replacement less than 2 weeks ago so does the 14 day rule still apply to me? I don't know if it makes a difference that I was falsely reassured my replacement would be of a satisfactory quality?

Our Response:
If a replacement is faulty you have the right to a refund or replacement - it's not your fault that the retailer took so long to repace it.
OnlineShoppingRights - 22-May-17 @ 12:57 PM
Louise - Your Question:
I ordered a dress to be made, sent through all my correct measurements and colours etc. It has been a long haul but finally received the dress and not one part of it fits me. It is the length of a top in the first instance but even more, it's almost twice my body width, therefore completely unfit for purpose. It appears the retailers are in Asia and are dragging the whole process out even though I have sent them pictures of the dress clearly showing the top is 3.5 inches shorter than requested in the measurements but this is not enough for them they want a video proving my measurements and are saying that I have provided the wrong measurements and would provide 50% refund if I wasn't happy but only after I've sent them the piece of material back with a tracking number which will mean special delivery. Does anyone have any advice on my stance with this as in the UK they are in breach of contract but I wasn't sure internationally? Any advice appreciated. Thank you Louise

Our Response:
No unfortunately, because the retailer is based outside the European Union (EU) your rights will depend on the laws of the country where the trader is based. You can try complaining to your credit card company if you paid by card. You could also try out if the country from which you purchased the garment has a consumer complaints organisation and try that.
OnlineShoppingRights - 22-May-17 @ 10:55 AM
Hi, I bought a facial brush originally in Feb 2017 and fast forward to now I have been givenanother one as a replacement in May 2017. The replacement I have received is damaged, unpresentable, dented and scuffed and even the retailer agrees it is unacceptable yet I have been told I cannot get a refund as I originally bought it in Feb 2017. I received my replacement less than 2 weeks ago so does the 14 day rule still apply to me? I don't know if it makes a difference that I was falsely reassured my replacement would be of a satisfactory quality?
Abc - 21-May-17 @ 2:38 AM
Hi,I brought a bed off a Facebook selling account for £300 they delivered for £10 I gave cash I received no receipt I asked for one after I handed over my money to be simply told to contact the seller and he walked off,on inspection of the bed all wasn't as it seemed to the images online the mattress was advised as 10" but was 8" this has an effect on how the bed looks the design on the headboard isn't flush with the mattress because of the mattress being to low the mattress needs to be at least 13" to fit,I IMMEDIATELY contacted the seller to inform them and asked for an exchange (it's still in its packaging) to be told no no refunds because it is an kingsize bed I was NEVER told ANYTHING about the refund policy through the Facebook page or on delivery,I've contacted them but they are ignoring me,I'm extremely upset as I've saved for the bed to be just robbed and left with a bed that was missold to me,pleasecan you tell me we're I stand.Thank you.
Bee - 20-May-17 @ 1:59 PM
I ordered a dress to be made, sent through all my correct measurements and colours etc.It has been a long haul but finally received the dress and not one part of it fits me.It is the length of a top in the first instance but even more, it's almost twice my body width, therefore completely unfit for purpose.It appears the retailers are in Asia and are dragging the whole process out even though I have sent them pictures of the dress clearly showing the top is 3.5 inches shorter than requested in the measurements but this is not enough for them they want a video proving my measurements and are saying that I have provided the wrong measurements and would provide 50% refund if I wasn't happy but only after I've sent them the piece of material back with a tracking number which will mean special delivery.Does anyone have any advice on my stance with this as in the UK they are in breach of contract but I wasn't sure internationally?Any advice appreciated. Thank you Louise
Louise - 19-May-17 @ 11:47 AM
Melissa - Your Question:
HelloI bought some shoes from BHLDN (american bridal shop ran by Anthropologie). I payd £120 for the shoes, £30 for the postage and £31 for customs.The shoes arrived and they are the wrong size.They have offered me: 20% off the price of the shoes to keep them OR I send them back (paying for the postage) and they will refund the price of the shoes. This means I either keep the shoes that don't fit and get around £30 back OR I lose out on about £70 postage to send them back.This is really frustrating as I live in England and so I can't call them or visit the store, and they are replying to me emails after 48 hours and ignoring the parts where I express my upset and would like a manager to call me.I was just wondering what my rights are here as it is their fault as they sent me the wrong shoes.ThanksM

Our Response:
Unfortunately because the company is not UK based, our laws will not apply to them. Check with your credit card company to see if they can help.
OnlineShoppingRights - 17-May-17 @ 12:27 PM
Hello I bought some shoes from BHLDN (american bridal shop ran by Anthropologie). I payd £120 for the shoes, £30 for the postage and £31 for customs. The shoes arrived and they are the wrong size. They have offered me: 20% off the price of the shoes to keep them OR I send them back (paying for the postage) and they will refund the price of the shoes. This means I either keep the shoes that don't fit and get around £30 back OR I lose out on about £70 postage to send them back. This is really frustrating as I live in England and so I can't call them or visit the store, and they are replying to me emails after 48 hours and ignoring the parts where I express my upset and would like a manager to call me. I was just wondering what my rights are here as it is their fault as they sent me the wrong shoes. Thanks M
Melissa - 16-May-17 @ 11:11 AM
annben - Your Question:
Hello,I sent an antique candelabra to be repaired. I paid over £500 for the repair. When it arrived home-today, it has a completely different shape to its matching pair, and the part where the candles sit is at such an angle, it is impossible to stand a candle in it again.What can I do? I am angry that I was forced to pay all this money without seeing the candelabra, and now I know why. ! How do I get my money back? it was a supposedly reputable antique restorer.Any advice greatly received. Thank you.

Our Response:
If the service provided has clearly not been as described or up to standard, you should try contacting the restorer first of all. They may be willing to offer you a refund so you can ask someone else to have a look at it. If the restorer is unwilling to pay, then you may have to take action via the courts. Hopefully you will have pictures of the candelabrabefore and after?
OnlineShoppingRights - 27-Mar-17 @ 12:18 PM
Hello, I sent an antique candelabra to be repaired. I paid over £500 for the repair. When it arrived home-today, it has a completely different shape to its matching pair, and the part where the candles sit is at such an angle, it is impossible to stand a candle in it again. Whatcan I do? I am angry that I was forced to pay all this money without seeing the candelabra, and now I know why. ! How do I get my money back? it was a supposedlyreputable antique restorer. Any advice greatly received. Thank you.
annben - 25-Mar-17 @ 7:24 PM
Tommyj - Your Question:
Hi. I'm hoping somebody can give me some advice. I purchased a brand new mobile phone from a large online electrical retailer. (eGlobal Central). I purchased via PayPal, unfortunately the phone stopped working within 4 months. I contacted eGlobal regarding a warranty return/ repair. They gave me a uk based address stating this it is there UK workshop. I sent the phone via Recorded delivery insured for more than the value of the phone, the package was received and signed for on 30/12/2016. I was then informed the item had been sent to china for repair. I had confirmation they had received the phone and the phone requires a repair which will take 4 weeks from 15/01/2017. I have had various communications with them since and every reply takes a minimum of 7 days and merely states " You're item is still in for repair, we will inform when we receive an update. we apologise blah blah blah. Having Googled this company since I get the impression that the chance of having a refund or my repaired phone is slim to none. Finally. after further research the U.K. Based service Centre is I global courier firm in Chessingtin (IMX). I have proof of receipt of my item at IMX and copies stating they have returned said item to China. My question is can I legally regard IMX responsible for my item as they signed for possession and initially I was given no indication the item would be returned to China. My apologies for the length but I wanted to be clear. Any help is appreciated. Many thanks.

Our Response:
EGlobal Central is the retailer and should deal with your query.The legislation that applies is the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The relevant points are in section 24 parts 5 and 6 as follows:
A consumer who has the right to a price reduction and the final right to reject may only exercise one (not both), and may only do so in one of these situations
(c)the consumer has required the trader to repair or replace the goods, but the trader is in breach of the requirement of section 23(2)(a) to do so within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer.
OnlineShoppingRights - 22-Mar-17 @ 1:59 PM
Hi. I'm hoping somebody can give me some advice. I purchased a brand new mobile phone from a large online electrical retailer. (eGlobal Central). I purchased via PayPal, unfortunately the phone stopped working within 4 months. I contacted eGlobal regarding a warranty return/ repair. They gave me a uk based address stating this it is there UK workshop. I sent the phone via Recorded delivery insured for more than the value of the phone, the package was received and signed for on 30/12/2016. I was then informed the item had been sent to china for repair... I had confirmation they had received the phone and the phone requires a repair which will take 4 weeks from 15/01/2017. I have had various communications with them since and every reply takes a minimum of 7 days and merely states " You're item is still in for repair, we will inform when we receive an update ... we apologise blah blah blah. Having Googled this company since I get the impression that the chance of having a refund or my repaired phone is slim to none. Finally.... after further research the U.K. Based service Centre is I global courier firm in Chessingtin (IMX). I have proof of receipt of my item at IMX and copies stating they have returned said item to China. My question is can I legally regard IMX responsible for my item as they signed for possession and initially I was given no indication the item would be returned to China. My apologies for the length but I wanted to be clear. Any help is appreciated. Many thanks.
Tommyj - 19-Mar-17 @ 5:31 PM
R Barkley - Your Question:
I paid for an early upgrade with Carphone Warehouse to my mobile contract and was offered an incentive to buy on the phone rather than instore (£45 discount) - the phone arrived and really is not what I was looking and asked to return the phone for a different phone but keeping the contract upgrade. Carphone warehouse is stating because I paid for early upgrade I have no right to return. Surely they can't pick and choose which part of DSR apply? Do I have any rights here? They claim it's informed on the phone but I wasn't, I never even received confirmation of the order even after phoning and asking for confirmation and no new contract information in writing either.

Our Response:
No, we think you should be able to return the phone if it's not as described, but you will need to check the terms and condtions regarding the contract. Because it's not a new contract as such, the cooling off period might not apply.
OnlineShoppingRights - 16-Mar-17 @ 2:24 PM
I paid for an early upgrade with Carphone Warehouse to my mobile contract and was offered an incentive to buy on the phone rather than instore (£45 discount) - the phone arrived and really is not what i was looking and asked to return the phone for a different phone but keeping the contract upgrade. Carphone warehouse is stating because i paid for early upgrade i have no right to return. Surely they can't pick and choose which part of DSR apply? Do i have any rights here? They claim it's informed on the phone but i wasn't, i never even received confirmation of the order even after phoning and asking for confirmation and no new contract information in writing either.
R Barkley - 14-Mar-17 @ 9:05 PM
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