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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 cs@sportsdirect.com

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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Also, for more guidance, information, advice, consumer rights and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!