Shoppers Urged to Know Their Rights When Returning Clothes

Jack Humphrey, Regulatory journalist
December 21, 2011 /

The OFT is urging shoppers to know their consumer rights when buying clothes for the Christmas party season or in New Year sales.

Problems with clothes is consistently amongst the top 10 complaints received by Consumer Direct, the OFT-managed consumer advice service, and over 20,000 complaints have been received so far this year.

In 2010 clothing ranked eighth highest at 3.1 per cent of total complaints.

January is the peak month for complaints about clothes which this year were around 40 per cent higher than during an average month.

When buying clothes, even when they are in a sale, purchases must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described, the OFT said. If this is not the case, the items are faulty and buyers are within their legal rights to ask for a refund, repair or replacement.

The OFT’s Know Your Consumer Rights campaign advises consumers to check the shop’s return policy when buying on the high street.

If the decision to return is based only on the change of mind, buyers won’t have any legal right to a refund, however many stores do offer additional rights to return as part of their customer service.

Further, customers are urged to check the clothes they have bought as soon as possible and before using them. The item must be returned when a fault is found.

Buyers usually have seven working days from when their clothes, purchased online, arrive to change their mind and ask for a refund.

As part of the Know Your Consumer Rights campaign the OFT is working with local Trading Standards services and retailers to make information on consumer rights more readily available. It has also produced a short online film to inform people about their basic rights when buying clothes.

Michele Shambrook from Consumer Direct said: “It is not acceptable for party clothes to fall apart after just a couple of outings, for a waterproof coat to leak or for your new winter boots to be scuffed when you get them out at home, and people have clear rights to a refund, repair or replacement when purchases are faulty.

“However, people shopping on the high street have no legal right to return an item simply because they have changed their mind. Many stores do offer additional rights to return goods, but these refund policies vary from store to store. Businesses need to be upfront about what they offer, but you can do your bit by keeping the receipt and making sure you understand your rights before you return the goods.”


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