Asos cracking down on 'wear and return' customers – your rights
Online fashion giant Asos has warned it could start suspending accounts if it suspects customers are wearing clothes before returning them, or returning too many items.
The shake-up of Asos' returns policy was announced in an email to customers earlier this week. It said it would be increasing the window to return unwanted items, from 28 to 45 days after delivery. But it also said it may now investigate and shut down accounts if it identifies an "unusual pattern" of buying and returning.
Asos says it's acting to make sure its returns policy is "sustainable" for both the environment and the business. But remember, if you're making a purchase from Asos your usual legal return rights DO still apply.
See more on the changes and what your return rights are below. But for full help on what you can and can't do when ordering online, check our Consumer Rights guide.
How do the new Asos return rules work?
Asos says it may investigate any accounts which show an "unusual pattern" under its new return rules. This includes:
- Wearing items and returning them. It says it will look into an account if it suspects this, but won't say how it would determine this.
- Ordering and returning excessive amounts. Asos describes this as "way, waaay more than even the most loyal Asos customer would order".
Asos won't tell us how many items a customer would need to buy and return for their account to be flagged as suspicious. But its email to customers insists the policy is unlikely to affect most.
Asos says it won't withhold customers' money if they've sent in returns, but if it suspects customers are wearing items or returning them, or ordering "excessive" amounts it may then suspend accounts so you won't be able to shop again.
If your account is suspended and you don't think it should have been, you can email or chat to Asos' customer care team, or contact them through Facebook or Twitter. (We also want to hear from anyone who's had this happen to them – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
'Some will worry about buying in case they can't return'
Many Asos customers have been left confused by the new returns policy, with some concerned that their returns will now be viewed as "unusual". Here are a few of the comments we've seen on social media:
How long do I have to return an Asos item?
Asos says it will now accept returns for up to 45 days after you receive your purchase. That's an increase from up from 28 days previously – though there's a small catch.
Under the new rules:
- If you return an item within 28 days, you'll get a full refund paid to your original payment method, as you did previously.
- If you return an item and it takes you between 29 and 45 days, you'll also now get a refund – but it will be given to you as an Asos gift voucher instead.
You should receive your refund or voucher within 14 days of Asos receiving your returned items.
What are my legal rights when buying online?
The rules above are Asos' own returns policy, which are separate to your legal return rights.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, you have a legal right to return goods which are faulty or not as described within 30 days – if you do, you should usually get a full refund. These rights apply whether you've bought something in store or online.
But when you buy online, you also have extra protection under what are known as the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which state that you have the right to cancel your order and get a refund for any reason – even if you've just changed your mind. You just need to cancel your order within 14 days and send back the unwanted goods within another 14 days.
However, there are some key exceptions to these rules:
- Your return rights are affected if you've used the item. This is defined as if you've 'handled' the items more than would be acceptable if you were looking at them in a shop.
So for example, you're allowed to try on clothes you've ordered from Asos to make sure they fit, as you would in a store changing room – but you can't repeatedly wear them out. If you have handled the item unacceptably, the retailer can reduce your refund up to the full price of the item.
- You can't return some personal items if they've been unwrapped. For example, if you buy swimwear or make-up, which have seals for hygiene reasons, you won't be able to return them if the seal is broken.
For full info, see Your web return rights.
What does Asos say?
In an email sent to customers, Asos said: "We know easy returns are one of the (many) reasons you shop with us, so we've increased the time you can return stuff from 28 days to 45 days. If you return anything within 28 days, we'll refund you as normal... and after that (up to 45 days), you'll now get an Asos gift voucher for the amount you spent.
"We also need to make sure our returns remain sustainable for us and for the environment, so if we notice an unusual pattern, we might investigate and take action. It's unlikely to affect you, but we wanted to give you a heads up."
And its terms and conditions add: "If we notice an unusual pattern of returns activity that doesn't sit right: eg, 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."
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