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Incomplete refund for online purchase

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 Jamie Wakeham 22 Jun 2020

I recently bought some electrical parts online.  As sson as they arrived I realised the sizing was wrong - a combination of not terribly clear description on the part of the shop and an incorrect assumption on my part.  I immediately emailed them to tell them the sizing was wrong and to discuss what alternative products might work, hoping to exchange the ones I'd ordered for the right size.

They have faffed and faffed - taking 19 days to respond to my first email (despite multiple reminders from me) and then another 11 days to confirm that they didn't have an alternative that would work.  At that point I said that this would not be an exchange but instead requested a refund.  They said they would, 'in line with the T&Cs on their website'.

The refund has just come through. They've not refunded their initial postage costs, they've charged a 10% restocking fee, and then taken a few more pounds off for good measure.

Looking at their T&Cs they do indeed say they'll not refund postage and that they charge a 10% restocking fee.  Having read around, I'm pretty sure this is simply illegal - the Consumer Contract Regulations 2014 say that (as long as I have not devalued the goods by handling them, which I clearly have not) then I should be refunded the full cost without deductions, including the basic postage cost, and that can't be over-ridden by their own T&Cs.

But it looks like I needed to request the refund within 14 days of receiving the goods.  I told them there was a problem straight away, and then they delayed their reply until the 14 days had elapsed.  So, before I write to them to demand my full refund: I presume I'm covered by the fact that I told them they were the wrong size within the time limit?  I didn't explicitly say I would like to return them at that point...

 Lemony 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

My understanding (having worked for a company with shitty bosses who argued the toss on an almost exactly equivalent scenario) is that if you didn't make it clear that you wanted to return within the 14 days then technically they're within their rights to be shitty. Sorry.

 r0x0r.wolfo 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> I recently bought some electrical parts online.  As sson as they arrived I realised the sizing was wrong - a combination of not terribly clear description on the part of the shop and an incorrect assumption on my part.  I immediately emailed them to tell them the sizing was wrong and to discuss what alternative products might work, hoping to exchange the ones I'd ordered for the right size.

> They have faffed and faffed - taking 19 days to respond to my first email (despite multiple reminders from me) and then another 11 days to confirm that they didn't have an alternative that would work.  At that point I said that this would not be an exchange but instead requested a refund.  They said they would, 'in line with the T&Cs on their website'.

> The refund has just come through. They've not refunded their initial postage costs, they've charged a 10% restocking fee, and then taken a few more pounds off for good measure.

> Looking at their T&Cs they do indeed say they'll not refund postage and that they charge a 10% restocking fee.  Having read around, I'm pretty sure this is simply illegal - the Consumer Contract Regulations 2014 say that (as long as I have not devalued the goods by handling them, which I clearly have not) then I should be refunded the full cost without deductions, including the basic postage cost, and that can't be over-ridden by their own T&Cs.

> But it looks like I needed to request the refund within 14 days of receiving the goods.  I told them there was a problem straight away, and then they delayed their reply until the 14 days had elapsed.  So, before I write to them to demand my full refund: I presume I'm covered by the fact that I told them they were the wrong size within the time limit?  I didn't explicitly say I would like to return them at that point...

Yes the restocking fee is totally illegal. I'd point them to the relevant sections of CCR 2014 and go from there. I think an indication of your the intention to return them is covered by your request to exchange.

Just because you offered to return them to receive an object of equivalent value rather than cash money doesn't take away that from your first email you were always returning the items. 

Post edited at 16:02
 Iamgregp 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

You're probably right but I used to work in retail (clothing) and we used to get a who heap of returns, in reality only a very small percentage of the returned stock used to get sold again and even when it did it would be in a sale for a fraction of the original price.   People just don't want to pay full price for something that's slightly shop soiled, let alone been bought and returned, especially when there's a brand new one on the shelf.

As your kit is electrical equipment maybe they won't even sell it if there's a safety issue which is why they don't return postage and charge 10% for restocking.  They're probably losing money on it...

Post edited at 15:58
 r0x0r.wolfo 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

> You're probably right but I used to work in retail (clothing) and we used to get a who heap of returns, in reality only a very small percentage of the returned stock used to get sold again and even when it did it would be in a sale for a fraction of the original price.   People just don't want to pay full price for something that's slightly shop soiled, let alone been bought and returned, especially when there's a brand new one on the shelf.

> As your kit is electrical equipment maybe they won't even sell it if there's a safety issue which is why they don't return postage and charge 10% for restocking.  They're probably losing money on it...

The fee is illegal, if they feel that the items have been unduly handled then they can charge for that. If they are in mint condition there's no reason they cannot be resold. 

There's a reason online business has taken over, and that's because the costs are massively lower even factoring returns. If a clothing company is throwing away most of its returns it's not doing business properly though admittedly depending on the popularity of said item it's more likely to end up in sale. Not really any different to trying stuff on in shop. 

Post edited at 16:19
 Jamie Wakeham 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Cheers, all.  I'm hopeful that when I make it clear that I know the law, they'll roll over.

The parts aren't particularly unusual, and they had plenty in stock - there's no reason whatsoever that they can't return them to stock for resale.  Apart from replacing the tissue paper around one of them, you'd never be able to tell they'd been out of the shop.

Will email them now and see where we get to...

 jimtitt 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

There's knowing the law according to UKC and knowing the law! If you didn't make it clear in writing that you intended to return the items within the 14 day cooling-off period they are entitled to charge a re-stocking fee.

 Trangia 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Sounds like a matter for Trading Standards?

1
 Jamie Wakeham 22 Jun 2020
In reply to jimtitt:

> ...If you didn't make it clear in writing that you intended to return the items within the 14 day cooling-off period they are entitled to charge a re-stocking fee...

This is the bit I'm not sure about.  I would hope that my intent to return was clear in my email (on day one of that period) and that I was simply trying to find out if they stocked the correct alternative for exchange rather than refund. 

Of course, they then didn't reply till long past the 14 days, which in retrospect I suspect was deliberate.

 SteveX 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> This is the bit I'm not sure about.  I would hope that my intent to return was clear in my email (on day one of that period) and that I was simply trying to find out if they stocked the correct alternative for exchange rather than refund. 

I would suggest they would not want to have that discussion in a small claims court, depends if you think it worth a punt for £30 or whatever it is now, or move on with your life.

 EddInaBox 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 replaced the previous distance selling regulations and give you the right to return most items bought online or by mail order, etc.  That is where the time limit of 14 days comes from and who pays the postage costs can be specified in the terms and conditions.

  If the goods are misdescribed as you seem to think then you would be returning them under The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and you have 30 days from the date you received them to reject the goods.  After 30 days you have to give the retailer an opportunity to replace (or repair if faulty) the goods.  Since you have already established there is no suitable alternative they have to reimburse you.  In either case the retailer must bear the postage costs and cannot charge a restocking fee.

 steve_gibbs 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

If you paid with a credit card, you should be able to contact your provider and get a refund. If paid with a debit card, contact your card issuer and request they initiate a chargeback. It forcibly takes the money out of the electrical company's bank. You will, however, have to provide your card issuer with electronic copies of your unsuccessful email exchange to resolve it and email receipts of the payment details. I did a chargeback to an airline recently and got my full money back with 4-5 days. Good luck!

 Martin W 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> Of course, they then didn't reply till long past the 14 days, which in retrospect I suspect was deliberate.

If it was deliberate than they're fools.  An online retailer can't fail to respond to your initial request for refund/replacement for more than two weeks and then claim that the 14 day period has expired.  The 14 day clock stops when you tell them what you want, not when they can be bothered to do something about it.

In reply to steve_gibbs:

> . I did a chargeback to an airline recently and got my full money back with 4-5 days. Good luck!

Hi Steve, taking the thread off on a tangent may I ask what the circumstances were? I currently have a return flight booked (UK to Indonesia) in August and I don’t intend to make the trip but I don’t know if there are restrictions that FORCE me not to take it (rules on entry and self isolation at each end seem a bit vague at the moment) or whether the airline will even operate that flight. One tip I got from a friend was to see if the trip is uninsurable. Just being nosey and seeing if perhaps I can just get my credit card company to do all the work for me 😃

 Jamie Wakeham 23 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Sent the email to them yesterday evening; woke up to find the full refund in my account today. Apparently they can respond quickly when they need to... Thanks to all for advice!

 Iamgregp 23 Jun 2020
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

You've never worked in retail have you?

 dabble 23 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Would you feel comfortable revealing the retailer? Sounds like they may be one to avoid, roguish behaviour like that is not a good look.

 Jamie Wakeham 23 Jun 2020
In reply to dabble:

I think I'll give them a day to see if they change the illegal T&Cs on their website.  If they're still up tonight I'll say who it was.  It's a small firm, and unless you too are refitting a vintage set of hanging lights then you're unlikely to deal with them!

1
 r0x0r.wolfo 23 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Great news!

 r0x0r.wolfo 23 Jun 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

> You've never worked in retail have you?

I haven't but my girlfriend works at NEXT. She says that they just wouldn't be able to operate as a business doing what you describe. The same item can be returned multiple times and sold at full price multiple times, if they are creased they are pressed or steamed and put in a nice new bag. If tags are missing they print out new tags at the online warehouse and may even hand write a tag, but it still goes out again at full price. They've even recently taken off the 'returns' part of priority returns so when the label is accidentally left on it just says 'priority' and the next customer doesn't feel they they are receiving returned goods.

Key to the whole online clothing shopping business model is making returning goods as easy as possible so people are willing to risk buying something which may not fit or they may not like. Where did you work that throws most of the returned goods away then?

 Iamgregp 23 Jun 2020
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

Like I said to the OP, you're not wrong I just told a story about how returns worked (or didn't work) at somewhere I worked at.

I'll not give the name, but it was the London flagship store of a Menswear supplier.

I've no doubt that the restocking charge and way the OP has been treated are all out of order, was just giving a bit of balance.  

Consumer laws are actually pretty well weighted in favor of the consumer, and rightly so!

Actually I'll tell you a funny story... On the website for the shop I worked for there was a pledge from the owner that "If any customer is unhappy with any of our products they can return it at any time in any condition for a full refund or exchange" well that was a field day for some customers!  One guy, who must have had huge pendulous balls, would return his trousers every couple of months because they had worn through at the crotch and we'd have to exchange his worn, ball busted trousers for a new pair and smile and apologise that this kept happening...  We had guys returning shirts that were over 20 years old as they were worn at the cuffs.  Eventually word got back to the CEO and he took his stupid pledge off the website.  Must have cost us thousands! 

 dabble 24 Jun 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Fair enough. I was more concerned it was one of the big online retailers. 

 steve_gibbs 24 Jun 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Chargebacks are for debit cards. The airline (Azul Airlines in Brazil) cancelled on me and wouldn’t provide any refunds for cancelled flights for over a year!! I contacted Starling Bank and they initiated a chargeback and refunded my money within around five days.
 

Credit cards provide even more protection I believe. Though you won’t be able to get a refund unless the airline cancels on you. Indonesia is incredible! Go there if you can.

In reply to steve_gibbs:

Thanks! OK your circumstances are rather different to mine - you got “stiffed” by the airline, I have not been. 

What I HAVE been, is “to Indonesia”. Six times I think (my mother is from there) 😃

 MischaHY 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

> You've never worked in retail have you?

To be fair I also work for an outdoor online shop and we resell all returns unless they're obviously marked or damaged, in which case we simply inform the customer and post them back. 

Anything that the customer receives defective and wants to return is usually sold to employees at massive discount and the money donated to a suitable charity. 

It's honestly very, very rare that we bin a useable product. Seems the least that companies can do to be honest! I personally think it should be illegal to destroy products if reselling means it costs you as a company more than simply chucking it. Amazon are terrible for this apparently.  


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