Does Sports Direct treat customers as badly as staff?

sdWhat do you think of Sport’s Direct reputation? Sports Direct shares continue to tumble largely due to The Guardian’s investigation into the treatment of staff by the retailer. It uncovered that the company effectively paid thousands of temporary workers below the national minimum wage of £6.70 an hour and subjects warehouse staff to a regime of searches and surveillance.

It doesn’t treat its customers any better. Its returns policy on their website is very poor and misleading. It says that you have to “pay for postage but this does not affect your statutory rights”, and of course we know most people don’t know what their statutory rights are and even fewer use them! If you click on the “Faulty goods” link they also suggest that you pay for postage and registered post at that. They say they will refund or exchange. However under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if the item does not match the description, is not of satisfactory quality or does not last a reasonable length of time then it is in breach of these regulations. Therefore one does not have to pay return postage or this should be refunded. Sports Direct does not make the customer rights clear, it sounds like they might give you an exchange even if you want a refund. Many people would not know that they could insist on a refund.

When buying online you have 14 days from the date that you received the item in which you can change your mind. This is under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. If there is no CRA breach then you would have to pay return postage.

Returns policies should be transparent. I do not believe that Sports Direct policy is do you? It is misleading for anyone that that does not know their legal consumer rights. When customers find out that actually they shouldn’t have paid the postage or that they could have insisted on a refund then they feel cheated and are unlikely to shop in the store again. It reflects badly on the business. So this kind of policy is counterproductive. Perhaps the CEO believes that so few people know about their legal rights that the company can make more money. However, times are a changing and people are seeking out information to be better informed about the legal rights. Clear policies which fully explain the customers’ legal rights ensure that consumers can shop with confidence and are more likely to be return visitors. Any company which treats staff that badly is going to have management problems elsewhere. And now it’s beginning to show. Good.

When I asked about Sports Direct and what people thought about their returns policy on Facebook some people (who clearly didn’t know their legal rights) actually thought that they only did exchanges. An example of a breach of the law came from Naomi who said that she had bought a rucksack. Within 1 week and no major weight in it, the strap ripped away from the bag. She was offered an exchange for a like for like bag or a credit note on a gift card to the value of the bag. She was of course entitled to a refund, even under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 as the purchase was made before 1st October.

People who have taken things back to stores as faulty still have problems getting any redress at all. Frequently told that the store will send the item back for testing giving ridiculous reasons for not providing a refund or replacement, such as you shouldn’t put trainers in a washing machine. Unless the care instructions specifically say that you cannot put the footwear in a washing machine then there is enough evidence out there to say that you can! Independent reports you can take to court! Do not be fobbed off by companies that behave in this way! See the book for help with not being fobbed off, advice, tips and guidance on how to complain effectively.

If you have had trouble with Sports Direct specifically why not email the CEO? (The UK’s 22nd richest man you know), I think we can all guess now as to how he made his money and it appears it wasn’t by treating his staff and customers with respect!

Sports Direct CEO email address.

Sports Direct Customer Service email

Your return rights

  • If you change your mind then a retailer does not have to refund or replace the item, although many bigger stores do
  • Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to a refund (up to 30 days from purchase) for any item that is not as described, not of satisfactory quality , not fit for purpose or hasn’t lasted a reasonable length of time.
  • After this 30 days you will be entitled to a refund, replacement or repair but the retailer can insist on not giving a refund.
  • If the item you have bought online is in breach of the CRA though you are still covered by the 30 day rule and indeed up to 6 years for online and in store purchases.
  • If breach of CRA you do not pay postage
  • If no breach of CRA it will be down to the retailer’s terms and conditions
  • Sale items are bound by the same laws as mentioned above. The only thing that would be different is if a fault was pointed out at point of purchase and therefore reason for reduction.
  • For the first 6 months the onus is on the retailer to prove that the fault was not there at point of purchase and after 6 months the onus is on the customer.

See Your rights, mail order, online and deliveries for more information and Tips for How to Complain to get that complaint right!


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12 Responses to Does Sports Direct treat customers as badly as staff?

  1. Freddie says:

    Vote with your feet, there are plenty of other sites to buy from and if Sondico Footballs are anything to go by, there are plenty of better products to buy.

  2. M says:

    Tried to contact Mike Ashley at the email you provided
    To complaint about the appalling customer service, ‘My sister cat could do a much better job’ but the email does not seem to work, tried to send not using capital letter but still does not work. Spent a fortune with Sports Direct and yet have been teated like a nuisance by their poor Customer Services.

    • The Complaining Cow says: is not my site. Please contact the editor of – details are on their site. Thanks

  3. Tom maddock-bradley says:

    I was over charged by 3 pound staff no help. Just handed me a complaint form. And said they could not give my money back. I have advised all my friends and co workers not to buy from sports direct. If we all stick together companies like this would soon be out of business. When I was younger I would have got in trouble with a company like this because I would have punched the manager and been arested by the police. I am not giving up till I get my money back even it means taking them to court.

  4. mal singh says:

    I had to wait 45mins to get served , 10 mins to see somebody just to find out the item out of stock. In the end I just walks out, contacting there head office nobody picing the phone.

  5. Brenda says:

    I bought or walking sandles for holiday. When I tried them on at home realised they where very wide, therefore not a good fit. I took them back for a refund to be told I could have a credit note or exchange. I wanted a refund. I asked to see store manager who was not in so I spoke to deputy store manager. She would not let me speak and had an awful manner about her. I said she was very rude and could I have her name, she would not give me her name as it was hers. ?????? The customer service was bewildering to say the least. In other bid stores they explain if you connotation return the item being bought , but when I mentioned this to deputy manger she said did you ask.

    • The Complaining Cow says:

      Incidentally legally if you change your mind they don’t have to refund, just many good stores do and SD isn’t a good store.

  6. Joe Mann says:

    Sports Direct just don’t want to recognise your rights as a consumer. Its clearly Company Policy to disregard the law of the land .
    I bought a pair of leather shoes. The first time I wore them on a drizzly day the raindrops went straight through to my socks in seconds.
    I returned them for a refund .The Manager said they weren’t sold as being waterproof.
    What a crock. A ‘reasonable person’ could expect outdoor shoes to be fit to wear in conditions prevailing here.I didn’t wade through a puddle or stand about in the rain.
    I have written complaining to the Head Office rejecting the goods and requiring a refund.
    Please avoid this trader and the sharp practice and shoddy goods the sell.

  7. Teresa Keirle says:

    I’ve had this happen today. I won’t be shopping there again except to use the gift voucher. Everyone I know and ever social media engine I can use will be told to beware

  8. Jane Norman says:

    Yesterday I purchased two pairs of trainers for my son from Sports Direct in store. My son was at school so could not try them on and I wanted to give him a choice. I specifically asked and was told “no problem, just bring them back within 28 days” Today I took one pair back and there was a problem. Only gift voucher or exchange. I said that I was told that I could bering them back but according to the manager I am a liar. If I had been told that I could only have a gift voucher or exchange then I would have bought one pair and exchanged them the next day if they were not right. I was told that I should have known that “just bring them back within 28 days” was only for an exchange or gift voucher. (Gift voucher is actually just a till receipt credit note) I am so angry. I am fully aware that their policy is legal but I feel that I was mislead regarding their policy.

  9. Michael John Hashim says:

    Sportsdirect customer support is a joke.
    I purchased a Lonsdale London exercise bike, and after a few weeks use, the pedal straps snapped.
    They weren’t very good to begin with, the velcro didn’t work, and I had to use tape, to stop them breaking apart.
    No problem, or so I thought, pedal straps should be available, as they are expected to be replaced.
    I contacted Customer Support, as I was unable to locate any available accessories, only to be asked to provide a picture, which I did, they then asked to provide an invoice, as I retain all my emails this wasn’t a problem.
    They then told me that this bike was no longer available, even though I included a link, from their website, showing the bike, still being sold.
    So far this problem is unresolved, and Sportsdirect seem unwilling to provide accessories, but instead want you to buy a new bike, everytime any part breaks.
    Their customer support is non existant, and their products are cheap rubbish.

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