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Returning Goods (UK)
Phil_C




msg:654510
 8:51 am on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi all,

I have a customer who purchased an item (available in various sizes) on the 31st March. He has today (26th April) contacted me saying he wishes to exchange the item for a different size. Am I obliged to do this?

I find the Distance Selling Act etc. a little confusing!

Cheers

 

swones




msg:654511
 9:52 am on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

I can't recall if it's 21 or 28 days, they are certainly cutting it fine. I suppose it depends on how much goodwill you have towards the customer, if they return it undamaged and unworn with tags still attached (and not covered in pet hairs and stinking of fags, like one we had recently! hehe) then providing they pay postage in both directions I would just replace it.

Simon.

meg8




msg:654512
 12:33 pm on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

The longest I've had was three months, in that case the guy actually nevwer received the goods (you'd have think he noticed on Christmas morning but no!) I would always accept the exchange with a smile and hope that they will shop with you again. Especially because it's across the legal date, you might say " I shipped on date X", they might say "I didn't get it until date Y", it might be easier not to have the argument.

Lord Majestic




msg:654513
 12:56 pm on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

IANAL, but I think the right to return goods bought over distance expires after 7 days after product was received by the customer.

Essex_boy




msg:654514
 4:38 pm on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Lord Majestic - Think your right its seven days.

phone your local trading standards office and cinfirm it, best to be sure than in trouble.

sem4u




msg:654515
 4:43 pm on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes I think it is 7 days, but after that you are under no obligation to accept returned goods (as long as they are not faulty etc.)

You may however want to swap the sizes as an act of goodwill. Does the customer sound like he would order again and again or just be a pain?

oddsod




msg:654516
 4:55 pm on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

The 7 days applies only if you have a watertight case. Knowing customers they'll look for loopholes. Your email invoice mentioned the size but your order confimation email didn't? They'll argue that they were misled. The lady who claimed that the carpet cleaner made 25 spots on her carpet discovered that the label on the cleaner warned that it was to be tried on a small portion of the carpet first. So she changed her story to: The cleaner split on my carpet. In 25 different places!?

I never cease to be amazed at how crooked the UK customer can be. If you believe that it was clearly labelled on the site, all your correspondence was spot on etc. tell the customer to take a hike. Unless it's a low value, not specifically made to order, not perishable item in which case just give them the refund. It's a lot less grief that having a semi-literate Trading Standards "officer" get on the case and help him concoct an excuse he hasn't thought up already.

Essex_boy




msg:654517
 8:40 pm on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Semi literate? Wot me guvnor?

Sounds like youve had trouble here before, care to elaborate?

oddsod




msg:654518
 11:28 pm on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Essex_boy, I consider myself fairly "well read" on the Sale of Goods Act, Distance Selling Regulations and other relevant consumer legislation. Trading Standards "officers" are a bunch of customer biased public officials we businessmen pay the salaries for. Their sole job is to justify their existence by perpetuating the myth that they are helping customers. In reality these amateurs know very little about the law, seem to be severely mis-informed on customer rights and are otherwise generally a pain in the butt. I have often proven the first two points to them and left them as to no doubt about the third.

Unless they are tracking bootleggers, copyright and trademark violations etc... but even then they are only a little more effective.

steve




msg:654519
 8:32 am on Apr 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's worth mentioning the Distance Selling Directive only applies to consumers.

Businesses and individuals purchasing for business purposes or their profession are not covered. Its amazing how many think they are covered.

oddsod




msg:654520
 8:48 am on Apr 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

steve, that's one the TS do get tripped up on. But you've got to play it smart. Keep corresponding with them till they make a clear statement in a letter/email quoting the directive. Then you politely ask which part of the directive applies to the business customer he's trying to help. Even the Sale of Goods Act makes a clear distinction between business and consumer purchase.

With "consumers"....there are still several exceptions - perishable goods/custom made goods etc. TS people seem to very rarely be aware of the exceptions. Unfortunately, most businesses don't know how to modify their product or word their Terms and Conditions to make their product fall under the exceptions. It's not taught in business school and the trading standards website won't tell you. It could be as simple as adding a perfume to the product that wears off over time.... or making every unit you build a custom made "work of art" or making it such that they have to break open the seal on a CD to use their new refridgerator.

You need protection from the officials. I've known a case where a company selling wedding dresses had to close down because customers were returning their dresses two days after the wedding and TS was insisting they all got refunds because "the law says so".

meg8




msg:654521
 6:22 pm on Apr 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

How sure are people about the seven days thing? I think the first seven days apply to items where you might pay a deposit but where you just buy a straightforward widget the right to return might be more like 28 days. Seven days might apply to a refund rather than a credit note, most shops are 28 days aren't they?

oddsod




msg:654522
 6:29 pm on Apr 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Part of the problem is that many national chains like M & S and Argos have a very generous returns policy that goes far beyond what's required legally. This is a good thing, of course, but customers sometimes think that the 28 days refund is their statutory right. It's not.

If your product was not as described, not fit for the purpose, or not free of defects then different rules apply

Google the DTI's site. They've covered it in some detail.

Essex_boy




msg:654523
 6:33 am on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

INteresting thread here, I think im goingto look into this and make a post on just what our obligations are to customers etc.

phantombookman




msg:654524
 8:47 am on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

The DSR are hugely important if you are in the UK and retailing goods over the internet. Once more people become aware of their rights it could be a huge problem.

Important to Note: There is a 7 day cooling off period for the customer, as is often mentioned, however..

If you fail to comply with all your obligations, i.e. the information you need to supply, the then cooling off period extends to THREE MONTHS!

DSR also applies to ebayers as well so people really do need to take heed

Lord Majestic




msg:654525
 5:10 pm on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

DSR also applies to ebayers as well so people really do need to take heed

I am pretty sure that DSR only apply to businesses not individuals, ie if you buy some stuff from an individual on ebay then you DSR does not apply.

oddsod




msg:654526
 5:13 pm on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

That's right. It depends if the item bought is something the individual sells on a regular basis in which case he is treated as a business.

uksports




msg:654527
 5:32 pm on Apr 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

With Ebay, if you in the selling in the course of your business, then the DSR applies to fixed cost and "Buy it Now" transactions but not to auctions

As far as the DSR liability itself goes, it is 7 days from the date of delivery that they have to notify you of the intention to return the goods and there is then another 7 days after that for the goods to actually arrive with you - however, if the transaction doesn't comply with the DSR from your end, they can have up to 3 months so make sure your site complies with the DSR requirements!

RailMan




msg:654528
 12:34 am on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>[Meg8] I think the first seven days apply to items
>>where .........

i think you may be confused by the distance selling regulations (7 day cooling off / cancel without reason) and the consumers statutory rights (right to return defective goods/ goods not as described / not fit for purpose etc)

>>[Essex_boy]INteresting thread here, I think im
>>going to look into this and make a post on just
>>what our obligations are to customers etc

you're selling online and you haven't looked into this already? tut tut tut!

Essex_boy




msg:654529
 6:11 am on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Not indepth anyway.

I have always in the past taken gear back whatever teh reason, with one exception a guy in the USA was really rude and abusive in an email about an item.

So I told to get stuffed, never heard any more from him.

phantombookman




msg:654530
 8:03 am on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

With Ebay, if you in the selling in the course of your business, then the DSR applies to fixed cost and "Buy it Now" transactions but not to auctions

The DSR apply to ALL non private sales on ebay. Auctions are exempt from DSR but ebay is not regarded as an auction house. This has been backed up in court and is also recognised by ebay.

It is also worth remembering that in the eyes of the law and the Inland Revenue the moment you buy something with a view to reselling at a profit then you lose Private Seller status.

The DSR are a huge deal, and changing all the time due to court rulings that define the law.
Amazon are fighting an appeal after a judge ruled they could not charge for return postage!
They argued that DSR allowed them to do this if clearly stated.
The judge ruled it was tantamount to a penalty and would leave the customer worse off.

I have a friend who deals with all this and the case law he sends me is getting frightening.

uksports




msg:654531
 9:03 am on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

"The DSR apply to ALL non private sales on ebay. Auctions are exempt from DSR but ebay is not regarded as an auction house. This has been backed up in court and is also recognised by ebay"

Okay, then that's changed since January when the local trading standards answered that question for me. Not sure that's actually in the consumers interest as it will force prices up so I'll be interested to see if that changes the other way at some point if consumer groups realise that

"It is also worth remembering that in the eyes of the law and the Inland Revenue the moment you buy something with a view to reselling at a profit then you lose Private Seller status"

Yes, I use seperate ID's to sell private and business items to ensure there is no confusion there.

Basically, I think the DSR is a good idea all round as it adds to consumer confidence in distance selling methods, and most of it is common sense - you do here of people expoiting the DSR by means I'm not going to go into on a public forum, but alot of them are industry specific and can be got around with a bit of thought.

"Amazon are fighting an appeal after a judge ruled they could not charge for return postage!"

We already offer free returns having worked in great detail to get the returns rate as low as possible, which is key to any distance sellers business so I'm not worried by that, but the DSR clearly does allow the charging of return costs - it sounds like the judge has personal experience of having to pay to send something back and didn't like it!

RailMan




msg:654532
 10:10 am on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>Amazon are fighting an appeal after a judge ruled
>>they could not charge for return postage!

AFAIK, the DSR does not say who pays the return postage so therefore IMO the judge is (technically) correct (but morally wrong)

>>I have a friend who deals with all this and the case
>>law he sends me is getting frightening.

i'd love to see this - is there anywhere we can read this sort of thing online?

phantombookman




msg:654533
 11:52 am on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Okay, then that's changed since January when the local trading standards answered that question for me

UK, it has been the case for much longer than that, in fact there have been many cases of people complaining that trading standards are inconsistent on this. Some offices say it does apply to ebay some not. The fact is that in cases that come to court it always applies.
The original test case came down to the fact that the DSR were put in place to protect the consumer when buying goods that they could not physically see or handle before purchase.
Ebay themselves also state that they are not an auction only 'a venue'
Incidently auctions that are only run postally are also covered by DSR. Only auctions houses were goods are on display, or can be viewed are exempt.

AFAIK, the DSR does not say who pays the return postage so therefore IMO the judge is (technically) correct (but morally wrong)

Actually the DSR does state that the seller can make a charge, that does not exceed actual cost, for recovery of goods. It must be stated in TOS before decision to purchase and also at the point of sale.
Amazon argued they complied but, unless they win their appeal, case law will now override it

RailMan




msg:654534
 3:59 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>Actually the DSR does state that the seller can make
>>a charge, that does not exceed actual cost, for
>>recovery of goods. It must be stated in TOS before
>>decision to purchase and also at the point of sale.

sorry, yes, the DSR does cover return postage - but i disagree with your summary

the seller must say who is responsible for the cost of returning the goods if the goods are cancelled within the cooling off period
if the consumer is responsible for return costs, the supplier may deduct the actual cost of recovery if the consumer fails to return the goods
this is quite different to the supplier simply charging a fee for return of goods.

uksports




msg:654535
 5:02 pm on Apr 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Railman, I don't believe that is correct

There are two areas of the regulations that define this

The first is the specific statement that the customer is not liable for the cost of returning goods that are supplied as an alternative or by default, damaged goods. By not specifying that this applies to goods supplied in compliance with the DSR, there is nothing to stop a charge for returning goods that are purely unwanted.

The 2nd involves the paragraph you are talking about - the regulations state that the customer must retain the goods in good order until recovered or until return is requested by the seller - it specifies that the comsumer must comply with this request.

This can be done in person or at their own expense, but it is the duty of the consumer to return the goods.

I'm not sure where the Amazon charge comes in, I'll have to take a closer look at that, but if you merely request the consumer return goods to you in their original state, and provided you have complied with the other areas of the DSR, then the cost of erturning the goods lies with the consumer

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