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Getting your refund policy right

13 July 2010

The BBC has discovered that a number of high profile retail companies may be operating refund policies which are in breach of the Distance Selling Regulations. Online retailers are required to offer a refund of delivery charges for goods bought online, as well as the price of the goods themselves, when the goods are rejected and returned within 7 days of delivery. However the BBC found that a number of online retailers were not offering refunds of the delivery charges.

The Distance Selling Regulations were introduced in 2000, following EU legislation on consumer rights. They are designed to protect the rights of consumers who buy goods online, and therefore do not have a chance to inspect the goods in the shop before buying them.

Although the sums involved are individually small, this could mean an administrative headache for businesses forced to address numerous claims for a refund. It could also result in Trading Standards getting involved. Under the Enterprise Act, they have wide-ranging powers to stop breaches of consumer law, no matter how small.

Consumers are not always aware of their rights – however it is important that businesses do keep up to date with consumer rights, as stories like this can result in bad publicity, and may even prompt legal action.

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