Running your own shop is an exciting adventure, and while we don’t want to dampen your enthusiasm we do need to talk about certain things you need to take into account when writing your returns policy. The first thing to note is that they are not mandatory.
When do I have to accept returns?
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that consumers may be entitled to a refund, replacement, repair and/or compensation where goods are faulty or not as described. They are also entitled to a refund and/or compensation if you, the seller, have no legal right to sell the goods (e.g. alcohol & tobacco, firearms, medicine).
In other cases, where the consumer has bought an item of clothing in the wrong size, or they have changed their mind, there is normally no automatic right to return goods. There are some exceptions to this rule however.
If a consumer has bought an item of clothing in the wrong size, or they have changed their mind and no longer want the item, there is normally no automatic right to return the goods. One exception to this rule is if the consumer purchase the item online, over the phone, or via mail order (all of which are known as distance selling) then they can return the product if it doesn’t accurately fit the description that was given.
What can I say in my returns policy?
Writing a solid returns policy that provides your customer with useful information can be tricky. Because of this, it is often said that ‘the best notice is no notice’. You should not need to state a returns policy at all unless your policy offers the consumer more than their minimum entitlement in law.
If you do offer the consumer more than the law requires you can impose conditions such as:
– the customer must show the original receipt
– goods must be unused and in unopened packaging
– a deadline for returns (e.g. 30 days)
– goods can be exchanged or a credit note offered
You cannot impose conditions where the consumer has a legal right to return goods. You should also make sure that you do not mislead your consumers about their legal rights, a good way to do this is to include the line ‘this policy is offered in addition to your legal rights’.
If you want to inform your customers about your returns policy before they purchase and of your products, you should take care to ensure that you do not mislead them about their legal rights. The following are examples of statements that are likely to mislead consumers about their rights:
– no refunds given
– goods can only be exchanged
– only credit notes will be given against faulty goods
– sold as seen
Even the statement ‘No refunds except where goods are faulty’ would be illegal, as there are a number of cases where a consumer can claim a refund on goods that are not faulty (such as misdescribed goods).
Many people believe that statements such as ‘Your statutory rights remain unaffected’ can be used with the statement above. Unfortunately when the two are used together they are still likely to mislead consumers about their rights, leading to the notice being illegal.
This article is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the Consumer Right Act 2015, but rather a general overview on the key components of the act. We recommend you take a look at the act itself and seek legal council where necessary.