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Having an efficient refund or return policy demonstrates good customer service. It can also reduce mishaps with customers returning your goods. You must make sure that your clothing store return policy: 

  • meets your consumer law obligations; and 
  • is fair to your customers. 

Depending on the customer relationship you want to foster and your business’ interests, this may mean going above the legal minimum required of you. This article will explain: 

  • what this legal minimum is; and 
  • what to consider when drawing up your clothing store’s return policy.

Clothing As a Consumer Product

Clothing items are a kind of consumer product. This means that a consumer would buy them for personal or household use. Because you regularly sell these consumer products, you are legally obliged to make various guarantees to your customers. These are that your clothes are:

  • fit for purpose;
  • of acceptable quality;
  • the same as any descriptions or samples you give;
  • not overcharged, if you do not set a price beforehand;
  • delivered on time and in good condition, if you deliver orders; and 
  • sold legally.

For example, if you sell clothing designed for the outdoors, such as windbreakers, customers should be able to expect that those windbreakers are fit for purpose and will provide protection against the wind.

If you fail to meet one of these guarantees, then customers are entitled to a remedy, such as a:

  • repair;
  • refund; or
  • replacement.

You reflect this in your store’s return or refund policy, outlining these situations and others when customers can apply for a return or refund from your clothing store.

Drafting Your Return Policy

Cater your returns policy to suit your store. As long as you comply with your legal obligations, you can tailor it as you wish. Set out the terms of your policy in key points, and use simple language. Make sure it is easy to read and easily accessible. 

For example, you could put up a sign with your returns policy by the till in your store, or make it a page on your website.

When Do Your Customers Qualify For a Return or Refund?

Your customers will always qualify for a remedy if you break one of your consumer guarantees, so make sure to outline these situations. 

For example, if a customer comes to you after finding a fault in their purchased garment, they are entitled to a remedy. 

If a customer comes to you wanting to return an item for a reason that does not come under one of your consumer guarantees, you do not necessarily have to provide a remedy. These situations include:

  • change of mind;
  • ordering the wrong size;
  • customer-caused fault or damage;
  • damage through customer misuse;
  • the customer knowing about a faulty garment at purchase; or
  • circumstances outside of your control, like third-party damage.

However, you may decide to give a remedy in these situations anyway, or offer a solution such as a store credit. When buying clothes, customers may often change their minds after purchasing, so it is worth considering offering some kind of convenience in this situation. Make sure to outline all times when customers qualify for a return or refund at your clothing store in your policy.

How Can Customers Apply For a Return or Refund?

The next critical thing to outline in your policy is how customers can apply for a refund, or let you know about problems with their purchased clothing items. They could do this through:

  • speaking to one of your employees in-store;
  • calling your business’ phone line; or
  • sending a request through your website.

Outline this in your policy. Whichever way your business processes these kinds of requests, make sure customers can understand this process and easily find out how to do it. This creates less work for you and your employees and streamlines the returns exercise.

For example, you should require proof of purchase when customers apply for a return or refund. Ensure customers know that they need to provide this as they begin the application process.

Returning Your Products

Then comes the administrative details of your return or refund policy. Some points to include:

  • delivery costs;
  • who pays delivery costs, you or your customer;
  • whether they can drop off items in-store;
  • time frames for product inspections;
  • time limits for returning products;
  • if you use a carrier service, whether they can return products through that carrier service; and
  • how customers should package their returns (for example, whether they need to package the return in the garment’s original packaging).

Key Takeaways

Your clothing store’s return policy should clearly outline when customers qualify for a refund or return and how they can facilitate that process. You must give a remedy in the situations that the law requires, but you may also decide to do so in other scenarios, such as customers changing their mind or ordering the wrong size. If you would like more information or help with your clothing business’ return or refund policy, contact LegalVision’s regulatory and compliance lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a return policy?

A return policy, also called a refund policy or similar, outlines when customers can return products they purchased from your business. This will outline your consumer guarantees and your own store policies.

When can customers return products?

Customers can return products for a remedy when you break one of your consumer guarantees. Examples include faulty products, or when products are damaged in delivery.

Can I refuse to give customers a refund?

You can refuse to give customers a refund in situations where they are not legally entitled to one. For example, if a customer changes their mind or orders the wrong size t-shirt, you can refuse to give customers a refund.

What should I put in my returns policy?

Make sure to inform customers of consumer guarantees in your returns policy, so that they know they can get a remedy if a product is faulty. Also include your own store policies of when they qualify for a refund/return, and how they can return products.

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