Many of the UK's biggest retailers including House of Fraser, JD Sports and Karen Millen are giving online shoppers wrong information about their return rights, a MoneySavingExpert.com investigation has found.
We've scoured the websites of major online stores to see if they tell shoppers their legal rights and are today naming and shaming 17 of the worst offenders (see the full table below). Here are two examples of the type of problems we've found:
- Karen Millen says: "You've only 14 days from purchase to return an item" – but the law is you've 14 days after it's delivered to cancel, then 14 days after cancellation to return.
- House of Fraser says: "Return an item within 14 days to get a refund via the original payment method", after that it's vouchers. This is poppycock – again you've 14 days to cancel and 14 after that to return goods to get a full refund.
And they're not alone. In total, we found:
- 13 stores either haven't updated their sites to reflect changes that came into force in 2014 and still display the old rules, or are just plain wrong. Some, eg, Miss Selfridge and New Look, have admitted their policies need amending – two firms, Very and Wallis, say the incorrect info was on old web pages that they're amending or deleting.
- Four more hide your real rights behind their own policies, which are often less generous. For example, Topman highlighted its own policy without putting your legal rights alongside the policy on its FAQs page, while Next's policy simply buried your legal rights in its T&Cs.
Thankfully after we reported the issues to them, 13 of the 17 firms have agreed to review their sites – some have already made changes (full info in table below). But the following haven't and we've reported them to Trading Standards.
- Karen Millen – it hasn't responded to our queries, despite us first attempting to contact it more than two weeks ago.
- House of Fraser – we first alerted it to errors on its site three weeks ago. While it's made some tweaks to its website it's still to fully rectify the issue despite us repeatedly chasing.
- American Apparel – it's declined to say if it'll amend its policy. Its site says "The original shipping charge is not refunded" but the law says the retailer must give you the delivery charge back.
- Liberty – it also hasn't responded. Its site says returns must be "within 14 days of receipt" – again, the law is you've 14 days after an item's delivered to cancel, then 14 days to return it. [Update 9.30am Wednesday 2 March: Liberty's now told us it's launching a new website and will review its policy as part of that. It says it offers a full refund on unwanted items as long as you say you want to return them within 14 days.]
These are your rights – regardless of what they say
Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com founder, says: "It’s simply outrageous that more than 20 months after the regulations were changed, many of these stores are still talking absolute poppycock about what people’s rights are.
"I find it a struggle to believe that they don't know the difference, including web-only retailers like Very who can't get the web regulations right. I believe this is at best a negligent attitude to informing consumers of their rights, and at worst a deliberate attempt to mislead.
"As we can't even rely on the big stores, it's important everybody knows their rights. Here are my five online buying rights need-to-knows... These are your legal rights – firms can make them better, but they're not allowed to give you worse conditions."
1. Almost all goods bought online can be cancelled. Unlike buying in-store, buy online and you do have an absolute right to cancel. The key exceptions, though, are personalised and perishable goods.
2. You've up to 28 days after DELIVERY to return goods. That's 14 days to cancel and 14 days after cancellation to return.
3. The refund is for the goods AND delivery charge. Though if you chose faster delivery you only get the basic cost back.
4. You aren't entitled to the cost of sending the goods back. So beware if ordering from elsewhere in the European Union as returning them can be expensive.
5. If goods are faulty you are then entitled to reasonable costs of return back. In this case the
For full information on your web return rights see the Consumer Rights guide.
Store-by-store: how retailers are getting it wrong
We looked at dozens of retailers' sites to see if their returns policies informed shoppers of their legal rights, and found 17 that fell short:
Major stores' web return rights
|Store||What the website said||Our verdict||Is it changing its policy?|
|American Apparel||"The original shipping charge is not refunded."||Wrong – the retailer must give you your delivery charge back.||Declined to say – its policy hasn't been updated yet.|
|Currys/PC World||"An unwanted product can be returned for a full refund within 21 days of delivery."
"In accordance with your rights when you purchase goods online, unwanted items can be returned... as long as you let us know within 14 calendar days from the day after delivery."
|Misleading – should make it clearer you've actually 14 days after delivery to cancel then a further 14 days to return.||Agreed to look at wording of its policy – it says it actually lets you return for a refund within 21 days of cancelling.|
|Evans||"Under the Distance Selling Regulations EU customers have seven working days (beginning the day after receipt) to cancel your purchase."||Wrong – these are the old regulations. You've now 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return.||Yes – it's going to update its policy.|
|House of Fraser||"For a full refund to the original payment, please return within 14 days of purchase, for a refund to an eVoucher please return within 28 days."||Wrong – you've 14 days to cancel then 14 days to return to get a refund via the original payment method.||Has made some changes since we first flagged errors three weeks ago but its policy still has mistakes.|
|JD Sports||"Please return your unwanted goods to us within 14 days. If you would like an exchange send back to us within 28 days."||Wrong – you've 14 days to cancel then 14 days to return to get a refund.||Agreed to review its policy.[Update 3pm Thur 3 Mar: JD has updated its returns page.]|
|Karen Millen||"If you are unhappy with any of your item(s), you can return them within 14 days from the purchase date shown on your receipt."||Wrong – You've 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return – its own policy offers freepost returns but there's no mention of your statutory rights.||Didn't reply – its policy is unchanged.|
|Liberty||"To return it for a refund, please ensure the item(s) are returned in their original conditions with bags and tags within 14 days of receipt."||Wrong – you've 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return.||Didn't reply – its policy is unchanged. [Update 9.30am Wed 2 Mar: Liberty now says it's reviewing its policy.]|
|Miss Selfridge||"In addition to our returns policy, under the Distance Selling Regulations EU customers have seven working days (beginning the day after receipt) to cancel your purchase."||Wrong – these are the old regulations. You now have 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return.||Yes – it's going to update its policy.|
|New Look||"We will usually refund you what you paid for the goods but not the delivery charge except in cases where the entire order was cancelled within 7 days under the UK Distance Selling Regulations or the entire order was faulty."||Wrong – these are the old regulations. You now have 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return – and the delivery charge should be included.||Yes – it's amended its policy.|
|Next||"Return your unwanted item(s) within 14 days beginning on the day after the day you receive the goods.*"
"*Terms and conditions apply."
|Misleading – should make it clearer you have 14 days to cancel then 14 days to return, rather than just burying it in the T&Cs.||Yes – it's agreed to amend its policy.|
|Office||"Where do I stand with the Consumer Contracts Regulations?... Any customer purchasing goods online will have 14 days from the date of purchase to cancel their item, subject to the item not being delivered. Customers will also have 14 days from the date of delivery to return their unworn goods to us."||Wrong – you've 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return.
||Yes – it's amended its policy.|
|River Island||"If you need to return an item you have ordered from our website, you can do so within 14 days of receipt."||Wrong – you've 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return.||Yes – it's revising its T&Cs. Says in practice its policy means it accepts returns within 28 days.|
|Sports Direct||"If a full refund including original delivery costs is required then the entire order needs to be returned back to us within 14 working days."
"Our returns policy does not affect your statutory rights."
|Misleading – should say you have 14 days to cancel then 14 days to return under your statutory rights, not just say they're not affected.||Yes – it's amended its policy.|
|Start-rite Shoes||"Statutory cancellation right... You have 14 consecutive days starting from the day after receipt to return the goods that you ordered from us."||Wrong – you've 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return.||Yes – it's agreed to review its policy.|
|Topman||Its FAQs page says: "You can return unworn internet purchases via post within 2 weeks of receiving your item, or to a store within one month of receipt."
"This does not affect your statutory rights."
|Misleading – should make it clearer you also have the right to cancel within 14 days then return within a further 14, rather than just saying your statutory rights aren't affected.||Yes – it's agreed to give statutory rights more prominence in its FAQs.|
|Very||Its FAQs page says: "Your Statutory Right to Cancel Your Order... For most items, you have a legal right to cancel your order within 7 working days of receipt."
"You will be responsible for the cost of returning the goods to us, including the collection cost, if you cancel under Distance Selling Regulations."
|Wrong – these are the old regulations. You now have 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return.||Yes – page has been taken down.|
|Wallis||Its pop-up checkout terms and conditions say: "In addition to our returns policy, under the Distance Selling Regulations EU customers have seven working days (beginning the day after receipt) to cancel your purchase."||Wrong – these are the old regulations. You now have 14 days after delivery to cancel, then 14 days to return.||Yes – it's agreed to amend its pop-up T&Cs.|
Spotted another one?
If you spot any other stores that are getting it wrong, please email the details, with a link or screen grab if possible, to firstname.lastname@example.org.