*in collaboration with Contact Numbers UK
Before I started my business degree, I wasn’t aware of my consumer rights. I didn’t really understand where I stood if I wanted to return items I had bought either no longer wanted, or didn’t quite turn out as I expected.
As an avid online shopper (I’d be be a diagnosable shopping addict if my bank account would allow it), I do feel I could have been a bit more savvy.
Online Shopping Returns
When Contact Numbers UK approached me to work with them on their #ReturnsPolicy awareness campaign, I was keen to get involved.
Most of my readers are big fans of fashion, my blog covers a lot of fashion and beauty topics, so there’s no surprise there. I’m also certain most of these fashion lovers will be doing the majority of their shopping online, as about 95% of them are mums (and mums are well known for being time-poor).
I thought sharing what I know might be helpful to some people, what I learnt about my rights has been a revelation to me!
It can sometimes feel like you’re being a pain if you want to return something, I can understand there being a slight awkwardness about it, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. The thing is, large companies want you to return items you are not happy with give places like Amazon and Very a ring and have a chat.
Most companies would rather you were pleased with what you bought from them, and continued to shop with them. They would rather you returned the odd item and kept buying from them, than have you keep what you didn’t like, then never use them again!
Some smaller businesses will display a notice (or have a section on their website) to say returns aren’t accepted and refunds aren’t issued. I didn’t realise this was against the law. If you receive a faulty product, or it is very different from what the description leads you to believe, you have a right to return it and get a refund.
We had a problem with an illegal returns policy recently. My husband ordered a custom made shirt for our wedding, but when it arrived, the sizing was terrible and it was too late to wait the three weeks for another one to be made.
The company told us they did not allow returns or refunds but could offer us a discount on a new shirt. Outraged, I sent and angry email spouting consumer rights laws at them, and thankfully they sorted it out. If I hadn’t known my rights I wouldn’t have got anywhere (if you’re interested, read up on the Consumer Rights Act 2015).
If the problem is that you don’t really like what you’ve ordered, your rights aren’t quite the same. Most companies will still want you to be pleased with your purchase so will probably offer an exchange in the absence of a refund.
Tips for Returning Items
As I’ve already mentioned, I’m an online shopping pro. Being a shopping pro also sometimes means I’m a returns pro too! Here’s what makes your life easier if you need to return something. I’ve spent too long accidentally keeping clothes because I didn’t have my affairs in order!
Keep original packaging – Where possible cut instead of rip. If you need to send something back, original packaging is important.
Leave tags on – If you’ve bought clothing you’re not sure you’ll keep, leaving the tags on gives you a higher chance of an exchange or refund. If it’s something you’ve taken the tags off and has become faulty after wear, then most places should accept a return.
Keep all the paperwork – When you’re excited for Mr Postie to drop off your package, it can be easy to get carried away, rip into the packaging and throw away the sales receipts and adverts. Usually a returns policy and/or form will be attached to that receipt, you’ll need that if anything need to go back.
Take note of when you received it – If you’re undecided about what you’ve got, it’s perfectly normal to hang onto it until you can grab a second opinion. Most places will have a set window in which you can return items, don’t let this lapse! I’m guilty of doing this, and as a result, I have a wardrobe full of slightly strange clothes I will probably never wear!
Ring the company – If you need to return an item but you’re not really sure of how to go about it, ring them up an have a chat. Sometimes if it’s faulty, they may suggest you keep the item to save on postage. In the past I’ve had something with unravelled stitching and when I’ve spoken to the company, I’d discovered it’s an end of line product. When this has happened, I’ve sometimes been given a partial refund and told to keep the item. When this happens, it’s kind of win-win. I’ll get my mum to do some discrete patching up, and then I’ll enjoy the few extra pounds in my bank!