Returns and refunds following a purchase online

If the goods are not of satisfactory quality, the customer is entitled to reject them and claim a refund. Consumers are also entitled to a cooling-off period if they purchase goods online.

You should therefore put in place a quick and efficient procedure for dealing with customer returns and refunds. Although companies are not obliged to take goods back if they've been bought in error or the customer decides he doesn't like the product, most sellers will oblige out of customer good will.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 requires goods supplied to be 'of satisfactory quality' and you are entitled to reject and claim a refund. Under The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, consumers are entitled to a mandatory refund where they choose not to keep the goods after a 7-working day cooling off period (14 working days for financial services). If the consumer does cancel the seller must refund the money as soon as possible, and certainly no longer than 30 days after the receipt of a written notice of cancellation.

Returns and refunds policy

value chain, returns and refundsSellers should have a policy in place regarding the conditions for all refunds and returns, including how they are dealt with and their legal requirements. All customers should be informed of these conditions prior to purchase. Customer cancellations should be acknowledged within three working days and include:

  • the date the cancellation was received;
  • details of the item, including value of any items delivered, value of any items returned; refund or credit; and
  • contract information regarding questions or problems with order cancellation or return.

Charging for costs of returning the goods is at the seller's discretion. If you are returning goods bought online you'll need to find out whether there is a charge. Usually suppliers will stand the cost if goods are being returned because they are damaged or broken. If you are sending them back because you don't like them it's likely you'll be required to pay the carrier costs. This charge may be waived for consumers under the 7-day cooling-off period.