Return Policy: How It Works In UK?

By on 30/10/2017

Good Decisions and Wrong Decisions



Return policy…probably you have bought lot of stuff: clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, everything that you needed you feel. You come back home, struggling to carry all the shopping bags, paying attention not to miss a single one. You unpack your bags to try everything on again. And? You suddenly realise you already have got two similar yellow dresses, almost identical denim trousers, the same shoes plus have bought a faulty cardigan. What shall I do now? – you think.

Well, the wisest thing to do is to return the superflouous items to the shops you have bought the things at. But can we do it? And if so, how to do it? Do we know what are the rules governing the return policy in the UK? Today, we would like to share with you some return policy tips which can be useful when you have done shopping in the UK, but still want to give the things back. (If you’re interested how it works in other countries, check it here).



Union Jack flag with writing "shopping in London"



Returns and Refunds: the Law


happy shopper holding white bags - return policy in UK



First thing you need to know is that you as a customer has exactly the same rights to refunds when you buy items in a sale as when you buy them at full price. And the general rule is that you must be offered a full refund if an item is faulty, not as described or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.



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When you may not get a refund?


You may not get a refund if you knew an item was faulty when they bought it, but your thought was to repair it when it turned out at home that it is too costly to mend it. Or you bought a thing but you damaged it accidentally while trying on for instance. You tried to repair it yourself but in vain or got someone else to do it.



London Carnaby St view



There may be a problem when you bought an item but you no longer want it (i.e.. because it’s the wrong size or colour or you have got an identical one in your wardrobe already). Unless you bought it without seeing that it is the wrong size or you wanted it in different colour.



Online, Mail and Phone Order Purchases

While shopping online you have the right to cancel your order for a limited time even if the goods aren’t faulty.

You must be offered a refund by an online shop if they’ve told you within 14 days of receiving their goods that they want to cancel. They have another 14 days to return the goods once they’ve told you.

You must receive refund within 14 days of receiving the goods back by a shop. You may just give it back without providing a reason.



A woman sitting at the desk in front of the computer



Repairs and replacements


 If you as a customer have ‘accepted’ an item, but later discover a fault, you may go back to the shop and they have to repair or replace it. We as customers can still reject the item after it’s been repaired or replaced.


Warranties and Guarantees

A customer has the same right to free repairs or a replacement regardless of whether they have a warranty or guarantee or not. So you may still have to repair or replace goods if a customer’s warranty or guarantee has run out.



London Old Spitalfields shops - return policy in UK


Proof of Purchase


Remember to keep your receipts once you have bought an item. We like forgetting about such petty things in the fever of shopping but without it, there is hardly anything we can do if for some reasons we need or wish to return an item. Almost always while returning things to a shop we are asked for proof that we bought an item from this particular shop. This could be a sales receipt or other evidence such as a bank statement or packaging.



Penalties for Displaying Notices


And remember that it is illegal to display any notice that deliberately misleads consumers or deceives them about their rights, i.e. a sign that says you don’t accept returns or offer refunds.



So What do You Need for Returns?


Depending on a retailer’s returns policy some will only exchange or give you a credit note, while others will give you a refund. But all shops usually require a few key things.


  •  A receipt – we have said this already but always keep your receipt and take it with you. If you’re buying a gift for someone else, ask for a gift receipt so that they can change it themselves
  •  The card you paid with if you paid for an item on a debit or credit card, take it with you when you return the item. This is especially important if you want a refund as its often credited to the card you paid with
  •  The original packaging – don’t underestimate the importance of taking the item’s original packaging with you



What if you don’t have a Receipt? Return policy rules.


 If you simply change your mind, the retailer has no legal obligation to give you your money back, if you decide to try and return an item without a receipt.

However, many stores will offer an exchange or credit note, so it’s always worth asking.

If your goods are faulty and you don’t have the receipt, you still have the same rights to a repair, refund or replacement as under the Consumer Rights Act.



young woman peeking out of a clothes rack - return policy in UK

The Items that can’t be Returned


Most retailers have policies which say that they will accept non-faulty returns, as long as items are unused and in perfect condition with their undamaged original packaging.

But there are some returns exceptions worth knowing about:


  • DVDs, music and computer software: many retailers refuse returns if the seal or packaging has been broken
  • Perishable items: you won’t usually be able to return an item if it’s perishable. This includes food and flowers
  • Personalized items: if an item has been made to order or personalised, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to return it



Goodwill – Return Policy


And the good news is that most retailers choose to provide a ‘goodwill’ return policy offering an exchange, refund or credit note for most returns.

And if your item was bought online, over the phone or by mail order, you have additional rights to return it under the Consumer Contract Regulations. It gives you a cancellation period that starts the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive your goods.

We are sometimes too lazy to return the things that we bought, especially online, and we do not like them or they are too small or too big for us, but it is good to know our rights and to have the knowledge on what we can do as customers.



How return policies work in other countries? Check it in our Return or No Return? How to Shop and Never Be Sorry blog post!




I'm Bogusia - founder of ShopTrotter and Age_Concept Blog I kind of like fashion - meaning: I like to look good, but spending too much time shopping is something that makes me feel overwhelmed. Besides of that - I have a walk-in closet full of wonderful stuff that I use once in 1-2 years... I know, it's outreagous! So I decided to start the Instagram account and try to reuse pieces I own for a long time, without compromising on fashion and style. My new motto is to re-create and re-cycle, instead of buying new stuff over and over. Now I shop consciously - buying only the items that complement my other clothes.

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