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Distance Selling Act & damaged packaging

 9:15 am on Jun 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

hi - i understand that the distance selling act was devised in order to protect consumers who could not physically view goods as in a high st store.

i recently sold 6 different items to a customer all clearly displayed in sealed bubble pack cartons.

however, the day after received i was informed they were "all" faulty.

on return of the goods they were examined by myself & 3 other members of staff & no faults were found.

the value of the goods was 90.

i have no problem refunding the return of unopened or faulty goods but in this case i find it difficult to oblige considering the packaging of each has been totally destroyed

i was going to return the goods but don't know if this is advisable?

could anyone please help on this?



 6:08 am on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

For me, I always take into consideration who the person is. Is it a nut that will dedicate their life to trying to ruin you, or just some random person you will never hear from again... If it's more like #1, maybe just chalk it up and move on. If more like #2, then just send them back. But in general, I usually take into consideration how it will affect me overall, as opposed to just the money. Sometimes it's better to just chalk it up, rather than waste your time getting in a long, drawn out battle with somebody.


 8:11 am on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

items don't need to be faulty, customers can just send them back for no reason at all.


 4:05 pm on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

customers can just send them back for no reason at all

But you don't have to accept unconditional returns unless your own policy and/or relevant legislation says you do. And you might choose to make the customer pay shipping for non-defective returns-- again if permitted by law.

Personally I'd save the worrying for customers who open a package, break the product, and then claim it was damaged in transit.


 6:19 pm on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

lucy24, i assumed the OP was in the UK, where you do have to accept returns.


 6:19 pm on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

thanks for you replies - i'm just wondering what would happen if you walked into a high st store & started tearing the goods out of the cartons?

the goods are kid's action figures with articulated joints & the complaint is that the joints in all 6 figures of the total order are too loose.

i know i should walk away & have frequently done so in the past but the fact that every figure "is faulty" (when they are not) really does put my tail down & raise the hackles.

so if i did decide to return the goods would anyone care to guess what the legal consequences could be?


 6:36 pm on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

The Office of Fair Trading website has the information that you need.


 8:25 pm on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

I know it's hard to do, but sometimes you have to place a value on your time vs taking it personally. I just had a guy the other day, argue with me for over a week, that something was "defective". He was an older guy, and the very first email had that... "I'm an expert on everything" type of attitude. So I knew I was in for a battle. I worked with the guy for days, back and forth. I knew it wasn't defective, but he insisted it was. I couldn't take it back, because it was used at that point. He eventually had a meltdown and I got a mile long email telling me off. I finally just gave him a refund to get rid of him, since I couldn't prove he was doing something wrong. A few days later, the answer came to me when I was half asleep... I actually took the time to call the maker of the device he was using my product with, because I had a hunch that their product was non standard, and that was why it didn't work. Sure enough, they admitted it was not standard. I emailed the customer explaining this, and of course... instead of thanking me for going out of my way to figure it out... he just said: "No, your product is defective".

I wrote it off. So some guy who's a total jerk got a free item. I'm not happy about it, but it's not worth the heartache pursuing some stuff. It's not time well spent.


 4:24 pm on Jul 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think the issue is that they are claiming the goods to be faulty, you have inspected them and deem them not to be - so it's a matter of opinion what you can and can't prove.

As they have been sent back as defective it doesn't really matter on the state of the packaging. If however they have been sent back as unwanted, and they are not in a resaleable condition that's a different matter (as long as your site T&C's support this)

We do an inspection report document for so called faulty items that we deem not to be, and even charge for sending the goods back. The report states that we will dispose of the items after 28 days so the ball is put firmly back in their court.

But as others have said the real decision is down to how much grief they will cause vs what you can be bothered to absorb.


 4:40 pm on Jul 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

If the OP is referring to the UK Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 then a lot of the comments here may be misleading as they appear to refer to US practice. The UK regulations are weighted heavily against the seller. Note this quote from the OFT instruction leaflet.

The DSRs
allow consumers to examine goods they have ordered as they would
in a shop. If that requires opening the packaging and trying out the
goods then they have not breached their duty to take reasonable
care of the goods. In these circumstances you cannot insist that
consumers return the goods as new or in their original packaging.
You may ask consumers to return goods with the original packaging,
but you cannot insist on this.

Read the complete OFT instructions for yourself or consult a solicitor.


 5:29 pm on Jul 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

So people can open up a bunch of stuff and then just return it, and that's backed up by the law? Are the manufacturers also required to take back opened items? I assume not, which seems very unfair to sellers.


 10:47 pm on Jul 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

So people can open up a bunch of stuff ...

In the UK, yes. Thanks to their DSRs (aka, the "Buy American Act"). This is one reason that British eStores have higher prices than US eStores for the same items.

Customers can buy whatever, rip it open, try it out for seven working days from delivery, then ship it back, no questions asked. Their only obligation is, "reasonable care of the item", and they can throw the packaging away.

As a British eTailer, my response would be, don't mail the original packaging. Open every blister pack, send the item that was purchased, and keep the original packaging. The DSRs only address the "goods", not the package they arrive in. That way, if the items are returned under the DSRs, the seller still has the packaging.


 10:53 pm on Jul 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

i contacted office of fair trading(uk) regarding the return of "faulty goods" that are found not to be faulty.

they say i can refuse to accept the buyer's claim, if that is so, by proving they are not faulty, that is by providing an inspection report to that effect.
ideally i would like a 3rd party involved but don't know who could do this as they are mattel action figures & obviously mic

the buyer is asking for a full refund including return postage @ 25 (used the most expensive courier to return yet was only charged 4 originally)
will most lightly do a charge back & take me to the small claims court for the 25.


 3:31 pm on Sep 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

Louise1, what happened in the end?

This is a pretty relevant thread to those of us retailing in the UK, thanks for sharing your experiences.

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