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Confused customers hit with Asos ban under new returns rules

Confused customers hit with Asos ban under new returns rules

Asos customers are reporting that their accounts have been deactivated after the online fashion giant changed its return rules last week. 

Asos announced it would start investigating and deactivating accounts if it suspected a customer was wearing items "out and about" and then returning them, or returning "way, waaay more than even the most loyal Asos customer".

But just a week later, numerous customers are already reporting that their accounts are being deactivated without warning, with many left confused about why they've been targeted and struggling to get explanations from Asos's customer service.

While Asos is still yet to define how it determines if a customer has worn items, or how many returns it would deem to be too many, it says the new rules are unlikely to affect the majority of its 19 million customers.

Remember, if you're making a purchase from Asos, your usual legal return rights DO still apply.

For full help on what you can and can't do when ordering online, check our Consumer Rights guide.

What is Asos telling its customers?

Last week, Asos said it would be increasing the window to return unwanted items, from 28 to 45 days after delivery. But it also said it may investigate and shut down accounts if it identifies an "unusual pattern" of buying and returning.

It says it won't withhold these customers' money if they've already sent in returns, but customers won't be able to make orders in future.

Now, in emails seen by MoneySavingExpert.com, banned Asos customers have been told: "Due to an ongoing pattern of returns behaviour that is against our policy, we have permanently deactivated your account." 

The emails included a link to the Asos returns policy, but did not give any further information about how the customers' behaviour had violated the policy, or details of how to appeal.

One customer who questioned the decision was sent further emails telling her she'd made a higher than average number of returns, adding: "We will not be providing you with any more details with regards to this as your account has now been deactivated."

'It's left people in the dark and confused'

We've received 13 emails over the last couple of days from MoneySavers who were shocked to be told their accounts had been blocked, and have seen a further 18 tweets to Asos about the issue. 

Emily Cutbush, 26, from Bournemouth, told us: "I have refunds outstanding with Asos but can't access my account to see what I've returned and monitor how much I'm due back.

"The fact that Asos hasn't confirmed what defines 'way, waaay more' than average returns has left many people, including me, in the dark and confused."

And Joanne Ervine, 37, from Northern Ireland, said: "I'm genuinely upset by the whole saga – I've been a loyal customer for years and it seems strange to be punished for activity which was allowed within the old policy before it changed."

Others shared their confusion on social media:

What can I do if my account has been deactivated?

If your account has been deactivated and you don't think it should have been, you can email or chat to Asos' customer care team, or contact them via Facebook or Twitter.

If customers have already paid for its Premier Delivery service, which costs £9.95 and lasts a year, Asos says it will decide whether to refund them on a case-by-case basis.

What are my legal rights when buying online?

While Asos' returns policy has changed, your legal rights are unaffected.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, you have a legal right to return goods which are faulty or not as described within 30 days to 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?

An Asos spokesperson said: "The fair use policy update is only to try and stop those at the extreme end of the scale. For example, people ordering numerous times (like, LOADS) and returning the lot each and every time.

"We get that some of the stories and headlines sound scary, but it's unlikely to affect the vast majority of our 19 million customers.

"We know we might get it wrong in some instances and we hold our hands up when we do – there have been one or two cases where customers have got in touch for totally valid reasons and we have reinstated their accounts. We're taking all the feedback on board as we make sure we're continuing to deliver the best Asos experience for our customers."