Next caught refusing to refund delivery charges

9 July 2010

Bitterwallet - Next logoIt won't come as a huge surprise to avid Bitterwallet readers, to discover yet another major retailer bending the rules with regards to the Distance Selling Regulations. The BBC has been snooping around Next, and found them failing to refund delivery charges applied to goods bought online, but then later returned.

And even though the law was clarified in April, Next won't be getting around to making any changes to that practise until next month.

Said a spokesperson for the company:

''During the last three years, Next has not offered a refund of the delivery charge. This was in line with our interpretation of the Distance Selling Directive. However following clarification from the European Court of Justice in April this year on interpretation of the Directive, Next is in the process of implementing the necessary changes to ensure that delivery charges will be refunded."

Still, they've some way to go until they beat the likes of Shop Direct. The BBC spoke to Littlewoods, who said customers must pay the delivery fee no matter how quickly the product is returned, and will not refund delivery charges unless the product is faulty.

"We believe that we do comply with the requirements of the Distance Selling Regulations and many of our brands offer free delivery and returns."

But as many Bitterwallet readers are aware, Additions - another of Shop Direct's brands - don't refund the delivery charge even an the order is cancelled before it is dispatched; even if it's Additions who cancel the order. On that note, we've taken the matter to the Office of Fair Trading, and we've been told we'll receive "a substantive response as soon as possible."

TOPICS:   High Street News

21 comments

  • Born2Hula
    Does anybody in business remember "the law"? You know, that silly thing you have to obey or the man comes and punishes you...
  • simon1
    The people who deliver these goods to your home, are also treated unfairly. The have been classed as self employed, rather than employed. To save companies like Hermes (who deliver for Next) on paying Tax/National Insurance, Holiday/Sickness Pay National Minimum wage etc. These people have to pay for their petrol, cars, wear and tear for as little as 45 pence for each parcel they deliver. Ive heard HMRC are looking into this and if proven Companies who use the "self employed" to deliver their goods (Hermes,DHL now HDNL) might be up for a huge back dated fine.
  • Paul
    Surely delivery is a service, and not goods? And as a service the rules are different... From the OFT documentation: "Different rules apply to services where the consumer agrees that the service starts before the usual cancellation period expires. These rules are as follows...... Where you have supplied the required durable information before the service starts and the consumer agrees to the service starting before the end of the usual cancellation period, their cancellation rights will end when performance of the service starts" So, when performance of the service starts - that would be when the goods are delivered, no? IE the customer has recieved the service they paid for?
  • Born2Hula
    @ Paul: You may have a point there, but if the seller ships a defective product, they should be able to charge you for wasting your time. Plus, Additions dont have a leg to stand on, charging you when no service has been rendered whatsoever. In't that the definition of theft?
  • Paul
    @Born2Hula yes quite agree, i'm just talking about the standard return where the goods just didn't fit/customer changed their mind etc
  • Luke
    I think the point of Distance Selling Regulations is that the consumer is given more protection as he or she is unable to see the goods in the flesh. So what the company makes up for in having to employ fewer people to sell the goods they lose in the occasional return. Also, I feel Next shouldn't be too heavily criticised - they may not have refunded the initial delivery charge (which is required) but they did not charge for returning it (which is not required). So in all likelihood they will just start charging for returns and refund the initial delivery which will probably make little difference over all.
  • Gunn
    Would be good to get a standard policy across the board, some sites are great the offer free post return, or free collection, some even pay for your return postage but then plenty don't refund postage and that is poor, I wasn't too clear though what happens with multi item orders and you decide to only return 1 part of it, do they not refund at all, partial refund (how do you calc?) or full refund.
  • cheapskate
    It's not a complicated read: http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/business_leaflets/general/oft698.pdf
  • Paul
    @Luke, excluding the delivery stuff, a customer already has additional protection by way of the legal right to return the goods for a refund - there is no such right with regards to in-store purchases, contrary to popular belief a retailer does not have to offer a refund (although many do for customer service reasons). Also, fashion industry return rates (online of course) are circa 20% so that's hardly occasional :)
  • Quill B.
    What a ridiculous law ! The main reason people order online is to save cost, typically 20% or so on our furnishings range at the store I manage. You simply cannot expect retailers to foot the bill for the initial delivery charge just because a customer has changed their mind. I grant that the percentage of consumers wishing to return items is very small in the bigger picture, however many retailers are seeing squeezed margins combined with a reduction in general trade through this difficult period, and should not have to have further restrictions imposed.
  • TomT
    I disagree with 'Quill Bill'. I think you can, and should, expect retailers to foot the bill for the initial delivery charge if customers change their mind. You cannot inspect the goods during online purchases (and some descriptions online leave a lot to be desired..), so this law is logical and sensible (one of the more sensible laws that we have). Online companies make savings over high street stores (cheaper premises, smaller premises (no showrooms), less staff etc). Good retailers who provide good descriptions of products and better customer service can, and do, make good profits with this law in place, even in this 'difficult period'. I think the problem in this case is bad retailers, not bad laws.......
  • Paul
    TotT, if the descriptions/images are misrepresentative then absolutely the customer shouldn't have to fit the bill for either the original delivery or the return - but that's not what we are talking about. If all the info is accurate (ie measurements given, tech spec 100% etc) and there is enough for the customer to make as informed a choice as if they were in a shop then it's not fair to expect the retailer to pay for a customer's inablility to digest the given information! Pure online retailers have less overheads yes, and the large companies can afford to offer this on a customer service footing to make a more attractive service proposition. But what about the independents? Often operating an online 'arm' from a shop premises - they don't make any savings selling online! There are bad retailers of course, but what about the good ones?!
  • Quill B.
    Thank you for clarifying my point Paul. Of course a customer may return an item if misrepresented with incorrect information, however the majority of customers know exactly what they want - they have done the research, looked at the product locally and simply choose to shop online for a cheaper final price so misrepresentation rarely comes into the matter. Customers choose to return items for many reasons, however I would suggest that often they wish to use the money for something more pressing, for example utility bills, mortgage payments, night on the town with their partner etc. Under these circumstances when the product description is accurate and the item fit for purpose, why should the retailer lose out on the delivery cost ? How would the head waiter of your favourite restaurant react if you ordered your favourite dish, waited as the chef cooked your meal just to your liking only to be told when presented at your table "I've changed my mind, I realise there's nothing wrong with it but take it away, we're leaving now and won't be paying a thing " ???
  • Jo
    I would also like to point out that fashion store www.boohoo.com wrongly charges a restockingfee for returned items. Many customers are unaware of this until they recieve a refund for less than they paid. This is also against the DSR.
  • Kate
    I find if wrong that Next only have to reimburse delivery charge if goods are returned within 7days, If I buy from Next online and want to return it, I book a courier online and its normally over 7 days before they come to collect !
  • Communication L.
    [...] Next caught refusing to refund delivery charges | BitterWallet [...]
  • Wibble
    There are LOTS of retailers breaching the DSR by not refunding original delivery charges. The list of ones who DO refind will be shorter...... PS: WTF? Is Dis Real???
  • Ten B.
    [...] Next caught refusing to refund delivery charges [...]
  • Next B.
    [...] a fortnight ago, the BBC squealed on retailer Next for failing to follow Distance Selling Regulations and refusing to refund delivery charges for [...]
  • Next B.
    [...] a fortnight ago, the BBC squealed on retailer Next for failing to follow Distance Selling Regulations and refusing to refund delivery charges for [...]
  • Taiko
    Just a note, Next are still doing this. I actually cancelled an order with them, as they detailed they were out of stock. I was originally told two weeks for delivery as was in stock, but nothing. Phoned them up, was told another 2 weeks. 2 weeks passed again, and my order still hadn't arrived. On the phone, they stated that they would not have stock for another 6 weeks, so I cancelled the order over the phone and purchased a similar item elsewhere. 2 days after cancelling, Next sent the cancelled order to my home address by courier, and the person at home signed for it, none the wiser. I returned the goods to store, and they only refunded straight away the cost of the item, not the delivery. £4 for a service that wasn't required. I then had to telephone them 3 times before something actually got done.

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