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Next slammed for online charges

High street retailer Next has been accused of breaking consumer law by failing to refund delivery charges for goods bought online then returned.

According to a BBC investigation, Next fell foul of the Distance Selling Regulations law introduced in 2000 whereby a customer returning goods within seven days is entitled to a refund on both the item purchased and the initial delivery charge.

A Next spokesman told the BBC it would change its policy from the start of August. He added: ”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.”

The spokesman added that customers had not been charged for returning goods, despite the fact that there is no regulation for retailers to cover the cost of returning unwanted items.

Other retailers including Debenhams and Littlewoods were also found to be in breach of the regulations.

The Debenhams website states that it only refunds delivery charges if the product is faulty. However, a spokeswoman told the BBC that is not the case and added that the website will be amended.

Littlewoods told researchers that customers were charged a delivery fee no matter how quickly the product was returned. Its website also states it will not refund delivery charges unless the product is faulty.

Readers' comments (2)

  • This issue needs clarification from Trading Standards to all retailers. The way we read it, customers are only entitled their delivery charge refunded if they CANCEL the order within 7 days. This must be done in writing. What happens in the case of higher delivery charges for express services which the customer agrees to pay at the time of ordering? Would the customer expect these to be refunded even though the retailer has had to use a premium delivery service? How do customers expect delivery charges to be covered if they arent expecting to pay them? Higher prices thats how. This could put a lot of small online retailers out of business.

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  • The DSR's are completely unreasonable when it comes to things like this. Why should retailers fork out refunds when it's cost them to send the package in the first place? Did you know that DSR's also state that if a customer wrote to you stating that they want a refund, you must then refund them BEFORE you receive the package! Yeah, as if that's going to happen! Who in their right mind would do that and I bet you no online retailer no matter of size would do that.

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