‘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

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Christmas is coming… are online retailers getting fat?

Online shopping and National Consumer Week

Christmas is coming and many of us will be shopping online. But it’s not just the internet giants who will reap the rewards of the Festive Season. Many smaller retailers and individuals are benefiting by using the big-name platforms, such as Amazon and Ebay, to sell their goods. In fact, more than half of the products sold on Amazon worldwide in 2017 were from third-party sellers.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Trading Standards have launched a campaign to raise awareness of using online marketplaces, such as on Amazon, GumTree and eBay. This is part of National Consumer Week, which starts on 26th November 2018, to coincide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

National Consumer Week picture of laptop

So, how do you best protect yourself when shopping online, if you’re dealing with individual sellers?

What you need to know when shopping from a business through a marketplace

1)    Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, consumers have 14 days cooling off period for changing their minds. You have up to 14 days to inform the retailer and 14 days from then to send back. There are some exceptions to this, such as bespoke items. Whether or not return postage has to be paid depends on the trader’s terms and conditions. If the item is faulty you should receive the full cost of any postage paid for sending the item to you and for returning it.

2)    For any complaint you will need to go through the platform’s process for complaining to an external seller. You may also find that the platform gives you additional protection.

3)    The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that items must be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. You can return any items if they do not meet any of these requirements. You do not have to pay return postage in this instance.

4)    If you are buying from an individual and not a business then the item needs only to be “as described”.

5)    If you paid extra for a dated/timed delivery and it does not arrive on time you are entitled to a full refund of the extra cost.

6)    Goods must be delivered within the time frame agreed with the seller. If one hasn’t been agreed (you have agreed a time frame if the listing supplies a time frame) the seller must deliver ‘without undue delay’ and at the very latest not more than 30 days from the day after the contract is made. After this time you are entitled to a full refund.

7)    Check where the item is being sent from! You will have the equivalent consumer rights if ordered from within the EU but not if it is ordered from outside the EU.

Rip Off Britain shopping online

8)    Use a payment system, such as PayPal, when purchasing items. This will give you cover if anything goes wrong with the purchase.

9)    If the item is over £100 (and under £30,000) and you purchase the item on a credit card, you have a right to be refunded via the credit card company if you make a claim within 6 years (5 in Scotland), using Section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

10) Completing a credit card transaction through a third party payment service means that the credit card provider and the seller are no longer in a direct relationship, so are not equally liable. So, you do not have the credit card cover if you use a third-party payment service such as PayPal, Amazon Marketplace, Worldpay and Google Checkout.

Research into knowledge of consumer rights and  online shopping

The CAB’s summary information for National Consumer Week looked at research into habits and problems with online shopping.

“Nearly half of people (48%) didn’t think there was a difference in their consumer rights when buying online compared to buying in a store, despite the fact that they usually have enhanced rights on returns for online purchases.

A significant proportion of people didn’t know their rights changed depending on the type of seller – for example a trader or private seller – with over a third (35%) saying there wasn’t a difference in their rights and a further 9% saying they didn’t know either way.”

“The most common redress issue reported to the consumer service is where the consumer wanted a refund but was struggling to get one.”

This was from the BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker August 2018

Further help with online shopping

woman sitting at computer text how not to get ripped off when shopping online

 

Don’t let shopping online become a “rip off”

Your Rights, Mail Order, Online and Deliveries

 

 

Your rights with deliveries:

Deliveries ITV news with Martin Lewis, Helen Dewdney & Peter Handley

More resources for complaining effectively

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively

Complaining on social media

The twitter symbol How not to complain on Twitter

 

Is social media an effective method for complaining?

5 ways how not to use Twitter to complain (and 5 ways how you should)

 

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

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