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Retailers criticised for confusing returns policies

22 March 2018 - 09:25 by Sarah Collinson

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A new report from consumer rights group Which? has revealed that a number of the UK’s largest retail brands are failing to offer clear, compliant returns options to customers who buy  online.

Forty six different e-commerce sites were assessed in the study, with all but one of them featuring some kind of error or piece of misinformation relating to returns.

The report’s authors criticised the fact that major outlets, including Morrisons and Aldi, do not make a clear distinction between the rights that consumers have and the company-specific policies that they enforce on top of these.

It was also discovered that plenty of sites claim that customers should get in touch with manufacturers in the event of a fault so that the warranty can be fulfilled, rather than using their in-house returns system to get a replacement.

Misleading consumers in the way that returns operate after ordering items via safe shopping online is surprisingly common, it seems. In many cases, people are completely unaware of the obligations that retailers have towards them as customers, especially if there is some kind of problem with the product they have purchased.

Most of the complaints made in the report boil down to a lack of clarity regarding statutory consumer rights. They not only cover you for returns if an item is faulty, but also if you simply want to send it back for a refund for any reason within the first 28 days after purchase.

Shoppers are encouraged to read up on their rights so that they understand when they can and cannot return an item, whether ordered online or purchased in-store. But retailers must also make efforts to provide this information at checkout and avoid obfuscating the facts with poorly worded returns policies.