‘Serial returners’ hit by new ASOS policy

Online retailer tackles perceived abuse by online customers

ASOS changes in terms and conditions

ASOS has changed its returns policy. In a move that some might consider to be customer unfriendly, it has made significant changes to its returns policy. It hits out at serial returners and customers who wear something once and then return it

ASOS emailed all its customers regarding the new terms and conditions.

“If we notice an unusual pattern of returns activity that doesn’t sit right: e.g. we suspect someone is actually wearing their purchases and then returning them or ordering and returning loads – way, waaay more than even the most loyal ASOS customer would order – then we might have to deactivate the account and any associated accounts.”

In addition to cracking down on serial returners, Asos’ new returns policy will allow shoppers to return unwanted purchases up to 45 days from point of purchase rather than 28.

The first paragraph is the softener, extending the returns time. There isn’t a need to do this. Under the under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 you have a 14 day cooling-off period during which you can change your mind. You have up to 14 days to inform the retailer and 14 days from then to send back the item.  There are some exceptions to this, such as bespoke items. And in any case, if people are going to return an item what difference does an extra couple of weeks make to nearly a month/

However, the second part is contentious. ASOS says that if it suspects a customer of wearing an item once and then returning it, it may ban the customer from ordering from its site. Or if a customer orders a high number of clothes and returns them too frequently they may also get banned.

From the shopper’s point of view

People buy from the Internet for a number of reasons including, for example

  • Inability to get to shops due to disability, lack of transport, lack of suitable local shops, etc.
  • Convenience
  • Choice
  • Price

There are no changing rooms on the Internet, so it isn’t surprising that people buy more items to see what fits. A couple of years ago, when wanting to find a dress for a special event, I ordered about 50 dresses! I rarely wear dresses, am all out of proportion and the thought of traipsing round shops and trying stuff on filled me with dread. So I took to the Internet and then tried on one dress after another. All but one went back.

Years and years ago we had catalogues, remember? Littlewoods, Freemans etc. We ordered from them and either paid it all off in one go or paid monthly. But all the items cost more than they did in the shops, even if you paid it all off in one go. The cost of people returning items for free was clearly factored into the cost. Big firms like ASOS should be able to cope with this, surely?

As Keshia East, beauty blogger says (see video below) “With social media, young people are buying things wearing them and returning them because they want fast fashion. It’s the culture now and firms like ASOS  feed into that”.

How should a business deal with this?

Wearing an item once and sending it back is fraud, that’s clear. Customers have been known to take their items that have been worn once to the dry cleaners, so they can be returned! Any move to stop people doing this is a good one. It is no different to someone doing the same in store, it’s theft for x number of days.

However, remember the stores on the High Street which have more overheads than online retailers, lose money through shoplifting and paying for security. Perhaps online retailers would do well to remember this/ If bricks and mortar retailers have to allow for theft and plan it into their forecast then online retailers should also. Their costs are already lower than those of the High Street so should they not bear some costs too. Ordering a lot of items for choice and comparison should just be expected and again planned into a company’s online strategy, as part of normal online shopping behaviour.

Perhaps the email is just to warn consumers and put some off wearing an item once?

When a customer changes their mind and has the right to return, the return postage does not have to be paid by the customer. So, perhaps companies should consider abolishing the free returns option? This would have to be weighed against the potential lost custom compared with the possible amount saved. It could be, of course, that if someone thinks it is OK to wear something once and return it they won’t think anything of damaging the item before returning it. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 they can return the item for free.

ASOS changes in ts and cs will the measures work on woman in black top

Other issues with returns

Consumers need to be educated about fast fashion and the damage that it does to the environment. This may help reduce the amount of ordering and change people’s attitudes to always having to buy new. At the same time we need to pester companies to do more with returned items and not send them to landfill. It is a very mixed and unknown quantity of what goes to landfill. What is recycled, what is resold and what goes to landfill?

This is really hitting small businesses. I hear frequent reports of how this practice is killing them. A number of small businesses have said to me how they sell items that can’t be resold but have returned. Smaller businesses and sole traders can’t carry the extra cost.

Emma Drew blogs at Emma Drew and used to sell one eBay too says “Customers abusing our returns policy was part of the reason we decided to close down our eBay business. The majority of our stock was clothing or other fashion items and we found ourselves being used as a ‘rental service’. Each return would cost us about £6.30 to cover postage to the buyer and postage back. As a small business we could no longer absorb this cost and increasing our prices to account for this cost would put buyers off. We now no longer trade on eBay.”

Your rights

Your rights when shopping online

Will this new measure work?

It’s interesting because I think it is just scaremongering. Social media was rife with suggestions that ASOS would look at social media and people’s accounts and look for pictures where people have taken photos of themselves, tagged ASOS and then returned the items. Ridiculous. If ASOS had the resources to look at that they would be far more than the loss they may be currently making from people returning items.

I doubt it will make any difference at all. Why should it? How will ASOS prove anything and would it risk the possible backfire if it got a customer’s details wrong?!

Other retailers may watch with interest, but the more innovative companies may look at comparing costs of returns against any backlash from getting things wrong and looking at ways to stop people being able to wear something once and return it in t

 

ASOS change in returns policy

Help and advice on effective complaining

Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively the importance of writing not phoning when complaining

For more help on complaining effectively see Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

For masses of information, tips, guidance, laws and regulations and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

Is a penny on a garment enough to tackle environmental issues?

Adding a penny to clothes to fund recycling scheme

Today MPs called for there to be a penny added to every item of clothing to fund a £35m annual recycling scheme.

Fast fashion and landfill

shirts on clothes rail various colours“Fast fashion” is the term that has been given to the clothing industry where clothes are being worn very few times and sent to landfill. In the BBC report 235 million articles of clothing were sent to landfill in the UK last year. 700,000 fibres released in a single domestic wash. In 2015 1.2bn tonnes of carbon emissions were produced by the global fashion industry.

Focus on plastics and food waste not clothing?

There has been (rightly) a huge focus on plastic as the public’s minds have become engaged with the issue thanks to programmes like Blue Planet. Similarly with food waste. But the clothing industry is doing just as much damage to the environment. It contributes hugely to greenhouse gases, water and air pollution and over-use of water. But are the people who are trying to reduce their use of plastics and encourage industry to make changes the same people who are wearing clothes once, being seen in social media in it and then disposing of it?

We need our MPs to do more in challenging companies. A penny a garment isn’t enough. The law also needs to be enforced to ensure that companies are paying at least the minimum wage so that clothes aren’t being made so cheaply it encourages people to throw away items. A change in the voluntary to compulsory agreements to reduce environmental impact and their involvement in what can be done to work in partnership with consumers regarding clothes they no longer want. Vouchers, clothes swaps, using recyclable materials so they can reuse etc.

What are stores doing to tackle clothes waste?

Well, Marks and Spencer runs its Plan A because there is no Plan B scheme. This includes giving customers a £5 voucher to spend in Marks and Spencer for purchases over 335 when they return items through Oxfam. But little is heard about this now? This is part of a larger programme and is working towards being more environmentally friendly by 2025.

ASOS sourcing programmes involves looking at  how to design, source and innovate to create more sustainable products.

Adidas joins the fight against plastic pledging it will use only recycled plastics by 2024.

There are and will be others. But it comes of no surprise to see that MPs say that they have had no commitments from the big bad boys, JD Sports, Sports Direct and Amazon UK who are amongst companies providing little to no detail on doing anything to help save the planet. That will be greed then.

Are companies doing enough to reduce negative environmental impact?

Let’s face it – companies can look for alternatives to plastic packaging which won’t necessarily affect costs to them or consumers. When it comes to fashion though, we are, in essence, amongst other measure, looking at expecting companies to actually sell fewer items! We need to encourage people to reduce their clothes waste which means buying fewer things.

Although the proposed scheme to add a penny to a garment would help recycling schemes there is more that could be done. There are signs that companies are waking up to looking at making responsible textiles and yarns and perhaps as this idea develops, the more environmentally friendly companies will become the ones of choice for the customer.

Unsurprisingly the voluntary approach to improving the sustainability of the fashion industry is failing – with just 11 fashion retailers signed up to an agreement to reduce their water, waste and carbon footprints. (As reported by the BBC.)

What can consumers do to reduce clothes waste?

  1. We need to educate people more around the impact of the current  throwaway culture. People who have been seen in an item on social media and say they can’t wear it again! Ridiculous but true.  Let’s encourage people to look at it as a positive move rather than a negative one.  Be proud of wearing something more than one once!
  2. Give things to charity helping both the charity, the person buying the item and keeping them in wardrobes not landfill.
  3. Sell clothes on auction sites or for free on GumTree and Facebook pages.
  4. Upcycle. Make changes to clothes, adding bling, cutting trousers into shorts etc.
  5. Using charity shops.
  6. Buy from companies working toward environmentally friendly practices and sustainability.

 

 

What else can we do to encourage responsible use of textiles, materials and clothes?