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Returns Policy and Internet Shopping

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 26 Oct 2018 | 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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Sent back 4 items as they didn’t fit. Returned all in same parcel they arrived in, got a weighed proof of posting from post office. Got partial refund as they claim only 3 items returned!!!! What can I do?
Titch - 26-Oct-18 @ 11:28 AM
I bought a leather handbag from what I thought was a German website. Instead I received 2 pairs of fake sunglasses from China! Have tried asking for refund but have been offered 30% plus keep sunglasses. They advised returning unwanted items would be difficult and costly. Is it worth pursuing?
Delilah - 2-Aug-18 @ 11:21 PM
Hi, I bought a highchair (German make) from a UK seller (business) on E-bay in September 2017 so 9 months ago. A month ago I noticed a fault: a piece of wood broke off from the arm rest where a table slides in for eating. Contacted seller 2xvia e-mail through ebay but no suprise no reply received. Contacted ebay but they cannot do anything as it was purchased beyond the money back guarantee time frime. Paypal same. There must be guarantee/warrantyon the chair. What can i do either to get it repaired or replaced? Thank you!
Moncza - 24-Jun-18 @ 2:14 PM
onali - Your Question:
I bought a dress from a website for £143 but the company delivered me the completely wrong dress, the colour was wrong and so was the dress itself. However when I emailed them and asked for a refund they refused even though their website says in their return policy they give refunds for those whos orders have been messed up due to their carelessness. I have emailed them about this and said that their return policy states I should be able to recieve a full refund however they only want to give me a 35% compensation and I get to keep the dress but if I wanted that dress I would have bought that dress. All I want is my money back and all they keep doing is telling me its my fault what can I do as I have told them I was going to report them. thanks.

Our Response:
Is this a UK company? Was the dress a ready made or made-to- measure garment? If the company is based in the UK, they are bound by the Consumer legislation which allows for the return of unwanted items bought online as long as the buyer has told the retailer within 14 days of receiving the item, that they want to return it. The buyer then has another 14 days to return the goods. The retailer must make a refund within 14 days of receiving the item back.
OnlineShoppingRights - 22-Jun-18 @ 12:40 PM
I bought a dress from a website for £143 but the company delivered me the completely wrong dress, the colour was wrong and so was the dress itself. However when i emailed them and asked for a refund they refused even though their website says in their return policy they give refunds for those whos orders have been messed up due to their carelessness. I have emailed them about this and said that their return policy states i should be able to recieve a full refund however they only want to give me a 35% compensation and i get to keep the dress but if i wanted that dress i would have bought that dress. All i want is my money back and all they keep doing is telling me its my fault what can i do as i have told them i was going to report them. thanks.
onali - 21-Jun-18 @ 1:22 PM
My husband bought me some earrings from online but I don’t like them and would like to return them. I haven’t put them in my ears but on their website they say earrings cannot be returned. Is there anything I can do? We only received them 2 days ago. Thanks
Lauren - 10-Jun-18 @ 4:35 PM
Loulou - Your Question:
I purchased a birth pool 15th March, read on the retailers website they provide an extended return period of 45days. I was unable to use the pool so contacted the company 16th April to request a return, had confirmation from them via email giving details where to post the item. The pool was received by the company 19th April, I contacted them 1st May, they confirmed receipt and advised they would process a refund that afternoon, when asked how long this would take I was told it would depend upon my bank. Its now 10th May and I still haven't received the refund. When should I receive this by? What should I do next? Many thanks, Louise

Our Response:
Your refund for the goods must be paid within 14 calendar days after returning the goods, or evidence that they were returned. Your refund should have been paid by 4th May. Write to them and inform them that you haven't received your refund within 14 days in accordance with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and that if you don't receive it within 7 days you will commence recovery proceedings via the small claims court.
OnlineShoppingRights - 15-May-18 @ 10:15 AM
I purchased a birth pool 15th March, read on the retailers website they provide an extended return period of 45days. I was unable to use the pool so contacted the company 16th April to request a return, had confirmation from them via email giving details where to post the item. The pool was received by the company 19th April, I contacted them 1st May, they confirmed receipt and advised they would process a refund that afternoon, when asked how long this would take I was told it would depend upon my bank. Its now 10th May and I still haven't received the refund. When should I receive this by? What should I do next? Many thanks, Louise
Loulou - 11-May-18 @ 5:46 AM
I bought a set of beats ear phones for my dad but they don't fit his ears. I rang very and they said i can't return them. Any one know what I can do.
Megz - 10-May-18 @ 10:03 PM
Hi I bought a Refurbished laptop online.. which when received had a fault so returned it . Received a Replacement that had same fault so returned that one aswell..Received another Replacement which has got the same fault. could you please give me advice on what my consumer rights are regarding this matter pleasr
Darryl - 4-Apr-18 @ 5:19 PM
MdB - Your Question:
I bought a pit bike online for my son, paid by MasterCard using the company’s guest PayPal. Upon assembling, my son cannot kick start the engine. He has experience of pit bikes, this is not his first. The company suggest it’s my son’s fault. Not really interested. Paid over £1000 for it. It’s very expensive to simply return! PayPal not interested because engines aren’t covered, and my credit card company referred me to PayPal. Apart from disassembly and taking it to a garage to look at and pay for at my expense, what can I do ?

Our Response:
He can reject this within 30 days of purchase for a full refund (as it's faulty). The retailer (not the manufacturer or Paypal) is responsible for giving the refund. If they refuse, you may have to try legal action but first, write to them explaining that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015m if an item is faulty, you have the right to return the product and receive a full refund within 30 days of the date of purchase. Suggest that you will be taking legal action (within a certain deadline) if they do not refund. Hopefully that will be sufficient to kick them into action, if not, then the small claim court may be your next option.
OnlineShoppingRights - 2-Mar-18 @ 3:28 PM
I bought a pit bike online for my son, paid by MasterCard using the company’s guest PayPal. Upon assembling, my son cannot kick start the engine. He has experience of pit bikes, this is not his first. The company suggest it’s my son’s fault. Not really interested. Paid over £1000 for it. It’s very expensive to simply return! PayPal not interested because engines aren’t covered, and my credit card company referred me to PayPal. Apart from disassembly and taking it to a garage to look at and pay for at my expense, what can I do ?
MdB - 28-Feb-18 @ 10:10 PM
Bobby - Your Question:
Hello, I purchased a camera lens which I haven't used and no longer require. I have contacted the company who are willing to accept a return but state there is a £15 admin fee. Is there anything I could do? Many thanks

Our Response:
What do their terms and conditions say? Is it a UK retailer? Did you order online? If you ordered online and are returning the unwanted goods within the 14 day period, you only have to pay an admin/return delivery fee if this is clearly detailed in the retailer's terms and conditions. If it isn't then, you the retailer should cover the costs themselves.
OnlineShoppingRights - 21-Feb-18 @ 2:32 PM
Hello, I purchased a camera lens which I haven't used and no longer require. I have contacted the company who are willing to accept a return but state there is a £15 admin fee. Is there anything I could do? Many thanks
Bobby - 20-Feb-18 @ 8:53 PM
Traci - Your Question:
I purchased two shirts size small for my son online both 60 each from a website he has purchased items before. However when they come they certainly not small they can wrap round him twice I tried to contact them as they say you need a return code. I could not get in touch with them but my son managed to. They say because it was a sale item. It was Black Friday deal that we can only have an exchange even though the item is back up to full price. However we don't want to exchange for anything else if the sizes are that big then nothing will fit him. Is this not a trade description act as they should have in the description like baggy tshirt or something along those lines. Look forward to hearing from you

Our Response:
The Consumer Contracts Regulations state that you have the right to return your order up to 14 days from the day you receive your goods. If the company refuse to refund, you can report them to Trading Standard and try and reclaim the money you've spend via the small claims court.
OnlineShoppingRights - 19-Dec-17 @ 10:28 AM
I purchased two shirts size small for my son online both 60 each from a website he has purchased items before.However when they come they certainly not small they can wrap round him twiceI tried to contact them as they say you need a return code. I could not get in touch with them but my son managed to. They say because it was a sale item. It was Black Friday deal that we can only have an exchange even though the item is back up to full price.However we don't want to exchange for anything else if the sizes are that big then nothing will fit him.Is this not a trade description act as they should have in the description like baggy tshirt or something along those lines.Look forward to hearing from you
Traci - 16-Dec-17 @ 3:42 PM
Please advise... I ordered an expensive men's aftershave and received cheap woman's perfume from the perfume shop. The telephone number provided is a waste of space- automated with no option to speak to a human being or leave a message. I have sent 3 emails in the last 24 hours with no response. No instructions regarding returns. What are my rights? What course of action can I take?
Hells bells - 13-Dec-17 @ 8:13 PM
Joy (UK) - Your Question:
Hi, I bought a fitbit Alta online, it worked for two days then stopped working. I immediately got in touch with fitbit and had to ask for a refund (their default options were a replacement or 50% towards a different product). Fitbit eventually agreed to this but advised I need to post (and track) the faulty fitbit to the Netherlands, and the postage would be at my expense as per their returns policy. I emailed to dispute that postage is at my expense, quoting the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as the fitbit was not fit for purpose, a breach of contract and I should not lose out financially. However, a reply from fitbit today states that postage will not be reimbursed. As you can imagine, I am not happy about this and do not see why I should be out of pocket (not to mention inconvenienced) because of a faulty item they sent. Please can you advise what I can do now, or who I should contact? Many thanksJoy

Our Response:
Did you buy directly from Fibit (they are not UK based) or from Uk reseller? Sorry it's not clear who you bought it from. Your initial returns queries for faulty goods or simply goods you want to return within 14 days should be directed to the retailer not the manufacturer.
OnlineShoppingRights - 20-Oct-17 @ 2:18 PM
Hi, I bought a fitbit Alta online, it worked for two days then stopped working. I immediately got in touch with fitbit and had to ask for a refund (their default options were a replacement or 50% towards a different product). Fitbit eventually agreed to this but advised I need to post (and track) the faulty fitbit to the Netherlands, and the postage would be at my expense as per their returns policy. I emailed to dispute that postage is at my expense, quoting the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as the fitbit was not fit for purpose, a breach of contract and I should not lose out financially. However, a reply from fitbit today states that postage will not be reimbursed. As you can imagine, I am not happy about this and do not see why I should be out of pocket (not to mention inconvenienced) because of a faulty item they sent. Please can you advise what I can do now, or who I should contact? Many thanks Joy
Joy (UK) - 20-Oct-17 @ 10:03 AM
Helste - Your Question:
My daughter ordered a dress from a Chinese conpany that advertised itself as US based,but obviously isn't. The item took over 12 weeks to arrive and now it has, is nothing like the description and photo on the website plus is so badly made and tiny it is unwearable. The whole thing is held together with hard glue and is sealed up in parts plus has holes and is so tiny a child couldn't wear it. It cost a lot of money. I know she is naive buying from a company like this but she is young. Please can you help in advising of her rights. There was no invoice in the parcel or any way of returning or gaining a refund. Thanks.

Our Response:
Not really. If she paid by credit her card, the card company might be able to help?
OnlineShoppingRights - 4-Oct-17 @ 2:27 PM
Niki88 - Your Question:
HiI have ordered a wedding dress online the company based in Hong Kong. The dress awful nothing like what was on the pictures and the size wrong so everything basically. Their return policy say 7 days after I received the dress I wrote them I want to send back and I want my money back obviously but they dont want to do. What can I do???Thanks

Our Response:
Unfortunately as the retailer is not UK based, our consumer laws will not apply. Did you pay by credit card? Your card company might be able to assist.
OnlineShoppingRights - 4-Oct-17 @ 12:46 PM
My daughter ordered a dress from a Chinese conpany that advertised itself as US based,but obviously isn't.The item took over 12 weeks to arrive and now it has, is nothing like the description and photo on the website plus is so badly made and tiny it is unwearable. The whole thing is held together with hard glue and is sealed up in parts plus has holes and is so tiny a child couldn't wear it. It cost a lot of money. I know she is naive buying from a company like this but she is young. Please can you help in advising of her rights. There was no invoice in the parcel or any way of returning or gaining a refund. Thanks.
Helste - 3-Oct-17 @ 9:36 PM
Hi I have ordered a wedding dress online the company based in Hong Kong. The dress awful nothing like what was on the pictures and the size wrong so everything basically. Their return policy say 7 days after i received the dress i wrote them i want to send back and i want my money back obviously but they dont want to do. What can i do??? Thanks
Niki88 - 2-Oct-17 @ 10:00 PM
Frank - Your Question:
Hello,I purchased 4 items of clothing online and when they arrived I had been sent completely the wrong items, except for the fact that there was 4 items and all sized mediums like I ordered. I have sent over 10 emails to the company all of which have been ignored, I have also emailed the email provided for payment inquiries but that has been ignored also. I made the order on the 5th August and received the items roughly 7 days later, it is now the 28th August and no progress has been made.The website only provides an email to contact them, no phone number and no location either. i have absolutely no idea where to turn, please advise I'd really appreciate it as the order cost me over £120.Many thanks, Frank.

Our Response:
Any website selling/trading online should provide a business name, contact details and address. There should also be terms and conditions stating how to deal with returns etc. As we don't know which trader you're dealing with, we can't check this ourselves but it sounds as though they're being very unprofessional. The only thing we can suggest is if there is a company number listed on their website, try and find the address via Companies House. Write to this address (and send a copy via email too), saying you are going to seek legal action to recover your money plus compensation for the time and inconvenience in follow it up. Report the company to Trading Standards as well.
OnlineShoppingRights - 4-Sep-17 @ 11:17 AM
Hi, I bought three set top boxes of a private seller through Paypal and after a few weeks all three stopped working. I emailed the seller numerous times and he was fine and offered to repair or replace them and asked me to return them. I returned them to the address he gave me and Parcel force have confirmed it was delivered and signed for to that address.Subsequently he has since confirmed he has the items in his possession and would be replacing them. However, 6 weeks later I have no replacement goods and he has kept my payment in full, he is now ignoring all my emails and communications. I have tried to claim through Paypal but because the address he gave me is different to the one on his account they rejected my claim and settled in the sellers favour. In addition, I have written proof via email from the seller that he has the items in his possession and the address he gave me to send it too however Paypal refuse to accept my claim as it is not "Paypal policy" to accept emails as proof. Please, please can someone help me as I am currently almost £400 out of pocket and with no items at all. Thanks
Kevin - 30-Aug-17 @ 4:27 PM
Hello, I purchased 4 items of clothing online and when they arrived I had been sent completely the wrong items, except for the fact that there was 4 items and all sized mediums like I ordered. I have sent over 10 emails to the company all of which have been ignored, i have also emailed the email provided for payment inquiries but that has been ignored also. I made the order on the 5th August and received the items roughly 7 days later, it is now the 28th August and no progress has been made. The website only provides an email to contact them, no phone number and no location either. i have absolutely no idea where to turn, please advise i'd really appreciate it as the order cost me over £120. Many thanks, Frank.
Frank - 28-Aug-17 @ 8:08 PM
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
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