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UK Distance Selling Regulations & Postage For Returns
Do I pay for return postage if customer changes mind?
jweighell




msg:626406
 3:47 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've never really had any problems like this until today...

I sent an order to a customer recently and today I received an email demanding a refund as he didn't want the goods. This is OK so far, but he is also demanding that I must arrange for the goods to be collected (which would cost me about £15 with my courier).

Giving him a refund isn't a problem, and in the past when a customer has wanted to return an item for whatever reason, they have taken it to the post office and paid to have it returned, and I've happily accepted the item and issued a refund.

I know that UK distance selling regulations state that a customer has a right to change their minds during the cooling off period, but the question is, who is responsible for paying for the items to be returned?

I have tried looking on the web to find the answer, however all I seem to find is contradicting information!

As it happens, the items that this customer bought were of very low value, and it really wasn't worth paying for them to be returned or getting in an argument about, so I have just given him his money back - but I am now wondering what would happen if the goods were worth a lot more?

 

Lobo




msg:626407
 3:52 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well on amazon returns policy it clearly states that "we will deduct the cost of return postage from your refund."

[amazon.co.uk...]

Yet if you have not made this clear in your own returns policy you may have to change that and learn the lesson for the future...

I would advice, stating that to your customer but if he again insists, then take the loss, change your policy info and nicely apologise letting the customer know you are doing this as a valued customer.. etc ..

Scruffy




msg:626408
 3:56 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Talk to the Trading Standards Office.

This sounds like a scam to me. He gets to keep the goods knowing that you can't afford to have them returned. Is this in the UK or international?

jweighell




msg:626409
 3:58 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Not sure if there's any laws elsewhere, but I'm a UK company selling to UK customers.

I did try phoning DTI to ask, but the person that would know, wasn't there!

curlykarl




msg:626410
 4:04 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Charging for delivery and recovery in the event of cancellation are commercial
decisions for the business and will be a factor in a consumer's choice between
competing suppliers. The business must not charge more than the direct costs of
recovery of the goods, such as the cost of postage or, for larger items, the cost of a van
making a routine trip to the consumer's home, nor can the business charge for any
consequential loss.

[dti.gov.uk ]

We always charge customers a return shipping fee if we collect, provided that we have executed the order correctly.

If they return an item as not required we refund the cost of the item excluding the original shipping charge and the return shipping costs.

ytswy




msg:626411
 4:09 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

from [opsi.gov.uk...]


Restoration of goods by consumer after cancellation
     17.  - (1) This regulation applies where a contract is cancelled under regulation 10 after the consumer has acquired possession of any goods under the contract other than any goods mentioned in regulation 13(1)(b) to (e).

    (2) The consumer shall be treated as having been under a duty throughout the period prior to cancellation - 

(a) to retain possession of the goods, and

(b) to take reasonable care of them.

    (3) On cancellation, the consumer shall be under a duty to restore the goods to the supplier in accordance with this regulation, and in the meanwhile to retain possession of the goods and take reasonable care of them.

    (4) The consumer shall not be under any duty to deliver the goods except at his own premises and in pursuance of a request in writing, or in another durable medium available and accessible to the consumer, from the supplier and given to the consumer either before, or at the time when, the goods are collected from those premises.

    (5) If the consumer - 

(a) delivers the goods (whether at his own premises or elsewhere) to any person to whom, under regulation 10(1), a notice of cancellation could have been given; or

(b) sends the goods at his own expense to such a person,

he shall be discharged from any duty to retain possession of the goods or restore them to the supplier.

    (6) Where the consumer delivers the goods in accordance with paragraph (5)(a), his obligation to take care of the goods shall cease; and if he sends the goods in accordance with paragraph (5)(b), he shall be under a duty to take reasonable care to see that they are received by the supplier and not damaged in transit, but in other respects his duty to take care of the goods shall cease when he sends them.

    (7) Where, at any time during the period of 21 days beginning with the day notice of cancellation was given, the consumer receives such a request as is mentioned in paragraph (4), and unreasonably refuses or unreasonably fails to comply with it, his duty to retain possession and take reasonable care of the goods shall continue until he delivers or sends the goods as mentioned in paragraph (5), but if within that period he does not receive such a request his duty to take reasonable care of the goods shall cease at the end of that period.

    (8) Where - 

(a) a term of the contract provides that if the consumer cancels the contract, he must return the goods to the supplier, and

(b) the consumer is not otherwise entitled to reject the goods under the terms of the contract or by virtue of any enactment,

paragraph (7) shall apply as if for the period of 21 days there were substituted the period of 6 months.

    (9) Where any security has been provided in relation to the cancelled contract, the duty to restore goods imposed on the consumer by this regulation shall not be enforceable before the supplier has discharged any duty imposed on him by regulation 14(4) to return any property lodged with him as security on cancellation.

    (10) Breach of a duty imposed by this regulation on a consumer is actionable as a breach of statutory duty.

I think it is clear that it is the consumer's responsibility to pay for return shipping. If you want confirmation, my advice would be to speak to trading standards - I've always found them very helpful for this kind of question.

PCInk




msg:626412
 4:13 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

They have a right to refund of the products purchased but not for services that have been completed. So if you charged them delivery there, they are not entitled to this money back. They must also bear the brunt of the cost of return.

Some large (catalogue firms come to mind) do not charge for returns postage. This is their choice as to one of their good customers service offered, but it is not required by law.

Essex_boy




msg:626413
 7:47 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Build a 3% fund into your prices, that way youll be able to pay these kind of charges without it eating in to your profit.

swones




msg:626414
 1:55 pm on Feb 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's pretty much agreed that if the customer chooses to return the item to you then they must do so at their own expense, you really must make this quite clear in your T&C's to avoid any confusion. However if the customer is not willing to return the item and demands that you have it collected, what would be the interpretation of the regulations above in this case, as I think this is the situation that the OP of the thread is in.

Simon.

ytswy




msg:626415
 2:26 pm on Feb 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

From the section of the act I quoted above, I think it is clear that it is the customers responsibility:

(3) On cancellation, the consumer shall be under a duty to restore the goods to the supplier in accordance with this regulation, and in the meanwhile to retain possession of the goods and take reasonable care of them.

(5) If the consumer - 

(a) delivers the goods (whether at his own premises or elsewhere) to any person to whom, under regulation 10(1), a notice of cancellation could have been given; or

(b) sends the goods at his own expense to such a person,

he shall be discharged from any duty to retain possession of the goods or restore them to the supplier.

(10) Breach of a duty imposed by this regulation on a consumer is actionable as a breach of statutory duty.

Edit: To be clear, they can't claim a refund until the goods are in your possesion, and it is their duty to return them to you within a reasonable timescale and to take care of them until they do. Until they return them to you, you don't have to refund them, and the goods remain their property.

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