back to article A third of online shops undermine consumer rights

Nearly a third of retail websites surveyed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are breaking laws designed to protect shoppers. The OFT analysed over 500 UK shopping websites to see if they complied with consumer protection laws by, for example, including physical addresses on sites, telling shoppers of their rights and being …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    30% re-stocking fees

    ... why i no longer put any of our companies IT purchasing through

    They got 30 quid as a result and have now lost thousands in orders for all sorts of kit.

  2. Mike Crawshaw

    "Restocking Fee"...

    The bane of anyone trying to send anything back. Where they charge up to 15% of the item's value to receive it back, and deduct that from your refund. Completely illegal, and very, very common. Also commonly believed to be ok by the drones manning the customer service phones/email because "it's in the terms and conditions".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    name and shame them

    " It said that 31 per cent of sites appeared not to refund the full cost of returned goods, an integral part of European laws about distance selling.

    It also found that 40 per cent of sites were not fully transparent about their pricing, not telling customers that compulsory additional charges would be added to an item until the checkout stage of a purchase."

    You can include in both of those categories

  4. Dimitri

    IT retailers are the worst

    The majority of IT retailers are especially bad with restocking charges, even if they sell you a product which does not work as advertised.

    The issue is partly that technology products are often badly or misleadingly described even in their packaging and sometimes fail to perform as promised. IT retailers don't want to deal with the volume of such cases so they offload it to the customer via illegal "re-stocking" charges.

    One shining exception I noticed a couple of years ago was Misco who when I tried to return something, actually offered to *pick it up*!

  5. Rob


    "It also found that 40 per cent of sites were not fully transparent about their pricing, not telling customers that compulsory additional charges would be added to an item until the checkout stage of a purchase."

    Yeah, and that's a very effective way of making sure that either:

    (a) I won't spend any money with you.


    (b) I'll be forced to repeatedly put stuff in my basket, got to checkout, cancel, repeat, perm x from n (where n is a large number) etc in order to find out what different options are really going to cost. Hammering your back office systems in the process.

    Incidentally, @ Mike Crawshaw, when I get the "it's in the terms and conditions" feed of shite I usually reply with something like: "Pet, your terms and conditions could say that you can ass-rape me with a cactus, but that wouldn't make it legal."

  6. Hayden Clark Silver badge

    Restocking fees

    are explictly forbidden in section 3.55

    And the goods do not have to be "unopened". Section 3.59

  7. Matt Thornton


    I'm embarassed to admit I didn't know that the re-stocking fee was't legit. I can't wait for the next time someone tries to pull THAT on me...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many a site

    Many a site has lost out on my business because it wasn't obvious that their prices were ex or inc-vat. I'm not going through all the bother of putting something in the basket, checking out, having to fill in a "new customer" form, just to find that they're all ex-vat and they're not competitive at all.

    You want to try returning something as faulty to Even if the item was DOA, they still sit on it for weeks to "test it" before finally sending you a replacement (assuming it hasn't gone out of stock in that time).

  9. Keith T
    Thumb Up

    It is good to see somebody's government doing its job

    Now if only we could get similar action on the west side of the Atlantic.

    These re-stocking fees are just plain wrong, although they seem to be legal here.

  10. cor
    Thumb Up

    Should take a leaf out of Dyson's book.

    Bought a Dyson online 6 years ago. After 3 years intensive service (dog, kids, forest nearby etc) the on/off switch got stuck. Sent an e-mail to Dyson customer services, Dyson was picked up next day and returned after 6 days, fault repaired.

    Cost : nothing.

    It still works fine.

    <end shameless plug for a good UK product>

  11. Cyber Omega are without a doubt the worst online company I have EVER shopped with, stay away from them at all costs.

    Made me pay for shipping suspected faulty parts back to them for analysis by their technicians, as they wouldn't take my word for which component was faulty. NOt only that but they mis-diagnosed the actualy faulty part which I sent back, saying it was ok and only catching on the second time I sent it back.

    It took several dozen emails back and forth and having the goods shipped back and forth before they admitted a component was faulty and instead of giving me an option of a replacement or refund, they only gave me the replacement option.

    For your own good people, stay clear of them. We all have enough troubles.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    30% restocking fee shocking

    I tend to use scan, but if that is the case, and I am now checking, they are about to fall off the to buy from list for major items.

    A restocking fee should be a last resort of a retailer who wants to stop the, 'wear it for a night and return it buyer', not as a rule of thumb. That level of fee on these type of items is ridiculous, the chance of hitting something incompatible is too high with computer hardware, and if a retailer is using re-stocking charges will nilly, it means they are not testing equipment that much. Apply a restocking fee just one time to a buyer who has purchased a shed load of gear in the past with no problems, you will lose that customer straight-away, and they will be vocal about it. By all means apply it to the idiot who has bought and returned a shed load of gear, you just don't want them as customers, but that is how you use it.

    Shame they use to be quite a gung-ho lot, now they have started to feel more eXtremeprogrammingesque, time to find a new player in the game.

    I am starting to look towards the overclocking scene, they seem to really dig the hardware, and that is what I want from a hardware place, a few quid over the minimum might just be worth it.

    Hmm, had a quick look at Scan's T&Cs and it is not clear - they do say they will refund in 28days. If they test for defect it is a 10GBP charge. So, don't claim defect in the 28days. There is a restocking fee but that is not clear if it applies to the 28day refund or not, it hints as not, but also hints as yes. Well, I am tempted to give them the benefit of the doubt there, and you can always speak to someone to negotiate your refund. The only time Scan have been in error with me, was thankfully caught prior to fulfillment completion, and then I asked (well, heh may have been a little stronger) for the sales guy to go check personally, and to his credit he did.

    If people are having problems - I have just been through an incident recently - chargeback is the word most ecommerce sites do not want to hear, they shoulder all the fraud charges, I only use it as a last resort, but I am willing to go there because it does amount to fraud. If an item is defective then make sure you take a photograph of it not working, BIOS error message etc. Incompatibility, especially for unix folks is the big one - and there I tend to bite the bullet, but I do think it gives me carte blanche to have a go at the Micosoft lockin whenever I feel the urge.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Two-thirds aren't so bad though

    I presume this includes all the major retailers, but I was impressed by the Tunebite makers, from whom I downloaded a program from and wasn't happy with it - one e-mail to the support desk, followed by another to their 'authorised resellers' and I was refunded. no argument about proof of uninstall either. Nice!


  15. Anonymous Coward

    They should take a hard look at ebay ...

    "The research found that 14 per cent of sites did not provide a physical address"

    If they had done their research solely on ebay, they could easily have prosecuted more than 90% of business sellers:

    a) for failing to make it clear that they are a business, and

    b) for failing to display their full trading name and addresses.

    Ebay's INCORRECT response is to totally mislead its sellers by saying "You don't have to do it unless you're a BIG seller and even then you don't have to do it until May.

    Wrong -- you have to do it NOW and you have to do it when you sell for profit, no matter how small your business is.

    OFT needs to go in TODAY, pick a sample of offenders, give them 3 days to comply or be prosecuted. Followed up by a BIG news release. Don't wait for ebay.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    some i would and some i wouldn't have been used by me for the best part of a decade, if not more. Their techies have always been on the ball, returns handled swiftly and diagnoses agreed. Apart from a replacement part getting sent to an old address because I'd moved since it was bought (and that turned out to be an experience thanks to the dishonesty of the new tennants deciding to forge my signature!) I've had nothing but good experiences with scan and they'd have to do something seriously bad to get knocked off the top of my suppliers list.

    ebuyer, on the other hand, I'll never touch again. A laptop went wrong two years old, one year out of warantee. They refused to recognise the customer rights act and in desperation before going to court I called in my credit card company and they did the right thing straight off the bat after seeing the technicians report.

  17. roger thomas

    Companies like SCAN hide behind the way the law is written

    Distance selling rules are written to protect consumers and not businesses so venders such as SCAN claim that they are focussed on selling to businesses. One of the ways that they 'prove' this claim is by showing everything as ex VAT. You are only allowed to do this when selling to a business - its against the LAW to publish ex VAT pricing when marketing to Consumers.

    SCAN is not alone, Even the Dixons group gets it wrong with charging a return's fee per item, but they at least understand part of the Distance Selling rules as can be seen here for their T&Cs on their microwarehouse site (General section 2)


  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hard drives

    I had a shock when I had to return a DOA Seagate (or was it Samsung) drive to them; I had to pay more than a tenner to send it from the U.K. to the Netherlands to get a replacement. Godo job it was worth three figures, or I'd have just found their nearest office and hurled it through a window. That would have been satisfaction for the money.

    I can't remember whether it is Maxtor or Western Digital that will let you print a form for a courier to collect the dead part from you. Nore more drives from manufacturers beginning with S for me. (I go through too many hard drives these days to remember who is what when it comes to warantees!)

  19. Anonymous Coward

    @Michelle Knight

    Umm sorry if I dont understand UK laws but a warranty is just that, a bloody WARRANTY!! If it lasts for a year then it lasts for a year if you paid to have default warranty extended then its extended. Way I see it is this, if the damn laptop was two years old and came with a 1 year warranty then IT WAS OUT OF WARRANTY. Plain and simple. Now if someone here can clue me in as to where I am wrong, or if the UKers are just plain sheltered from no wrong then thats fine. Personally I think you got away with something for nothing.

    In reply to which of the drive manufactures your looking for its Western Digital.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Rik Hemsley

    The OFT are probably going to look for a few test cases. I knew about their survey because a letter from them arrived on my desk a few days ago (I'm head of online for a high street retailer). It was written in polite terms, but it was fairly clear they're going to start following up on the non-compliant retailers soon via local Trading Standards officers. I'm guessing that rather than go for everyone, they'll make a few high profile examples of people. (we're compliant btw).

    Restocking fees are a particular evil, and very illegal. If faced with them you should definitely kick up a fuss (find the MD's email, its usually pretty easy).

    The only area which may prove a bit contentious is P&P; you're supposed to show your P&P charges before checkout, and most sites do that by having a delivery charges section, but the wording of the regulation is vague enough that this may not be enough.

  21. Adam West

    Another one charge a 25% restocking fee, regardless of wether the item returned was faulty or not. When I pointed out to them that this was illegal, they basically explained that they didnt care. Since I didnt have the means to do anything about it, I just wrote off the 25% and made sure as many people as possibly knew not to buy from them. Since I work at several colleges and schools and people often ask me where to buy from, have lost a hell of a lot of sales just for that 25%.

  22. E.
    Paris Hilton

    Varied experiences

    Scan: (as already mentioned) hahahahaha. Never again. Got an email from them once telling me about someone elses warranty repair (and associated charges).

    Aria: Also never again. Keen to get your money. Flat refusal to support and receive back. Wasn't worth the time or emotional investment to chase hard, so bought a (<£20) replacement from someone else and will never buy from Aria again.

    Misco: had one drive in an array go down. Misco replaced the entire array, which had been bought as part of a system from them, since the originals had been spec'd as matched drives. No direct replacement for failed drive available, so whole new array to maintain matching. Outstanding.

    Paris: because she'd understand that customer service doesn't have to suck.

  23. Steve Sutton


    Anybody know about delivery charges?

    I recently sent something back to Dabs (it wasn't specifically broke, just a truly crap piece of kit that I decided I didn't want), and they told me that they wouldn't refund delivery charges. Further, I had to pay the cost of returning the item.

    So, my question is, do they have to refund delivery charges?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    At Anonymous Coward

    Aha! But this is the UK where the law states that a product/purchase has to be fit for a particular purpose. The consumer rights act states that a buyer has a right to expect a purchase to last for a reasonable amount of time given reasonable wear and tear. I have a right to expect a laptop to last four years given that I don't mistreat it and use it as designed and specified. If it doesn't, I can take it to the retailer (not the manufacturer) and expect them to put the issue right.

    This is totally independent of the manufacturers warantee

    Those in the U.K. can get a full set of their consumer rights under law free of charge by contacting the Citizens Advice Bureau by phone (google them) and they'll post the very readable documents to you.

    Google "uk consumer rights act" and that should get it for you. The amendment limited the retailers liability to 6 years.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK Warantee - additional

    Many people in the UK who don't know their consumer law fork out an absolute fortune on extended manufacturer warantees that aren't actually needed. Granted, there may be a few features on some warantees that are wise but it pays to know your law and be able to work out when an extended warantee is worthwhile and when it is a complete waste of money.

  26. david g
    Paris Hilton

    @ Anon 16:32

    Correct. UK Consumer rights enshrine a 'reasonable life' clause. There is an expectation that a washing machine will reasonably last several years. The warranty period is immaterial.

    Paris - warranty free.

  27. mh.

    Delivery charges

    If it goes wrong in the first 6 months, it's assumed the fault was there when you bought it and it's up to the retailer to prove otherwise. The retailer DOES have to refund postage charges if the goods are faulty and Dabs specifically were told off by the OFT last year: The distance selling regulations allow you to return something within 7 days of it arriving no questions asked and again the retailer has to pay the postage costs. After that, it's up to them to decide.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK Warantee - additional additional

    If you make a purchase by a credit card (not a debit card) then the credit card company has the same liability under UK law as does the retailer. So if the retailer gives you grief, you can just go to the credit card company and claim through them. All of my major purchases (for services as well as product) are made with a credit card wherever I can.

  29. Alan Parsons

    not got an account yet?

    Then give us all your details please!

    THAT really pisses me off. All I wanted to buy today was a bottle of Dave's Insanity Sauce - yeah I like hot food, but I had to 'proceed to checkout' on three different sites before I found one that would let me buy it without creating an account. If I walk into a shop, whether I pay by cash or card, I want to just pay and walk out.

    The only high street shop to try this crap when you're there in person is PC world - they wanted my name and address etc recently when I was paying CASH for a 15 quid webcam.

    So what about a law that makes it illegal for sites to prevent you from buying something without creating an account. A law that states that you have the right to buy stuff without them permanently storing your info.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sales of goods act.....

    The sales of goods act ensures that all items should be fit for purpose for a "reasonable time period" i.e. a mobile phone should really last 24 months or so before breaking where as a tennis ball would only be expected to last about 1 month.

    It does not give items a six year warranty as is often quoted, the six years is in fact the "limitation period" for contractual liability. Which means if you can PROVE a item broke within its reasonable warranty period but you decided to wait 5 years to inform the retailer, you will still be covered.

    Basically the retailer will detail the warranty period which it deems a reasonable time length, if you don't agree then don't buy it and they lose a sale.

    You can take a retailer to court but clearly the older the item is when the fault manifests itself the less chance you have of convincing a judge you have been unfairly treated.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Sutton

    Dabs are breaking the DSR. They have to refund the P&P AND you have no obligation to pay for sending it back. That's why most decent online sites ask you to contact customer services so they can generate a freepost label.

  32. Matt Brigden

    I can understand restock fees to a point

    If I was to sell you a bit of kit which you kept and used for a few weeks and you subsequently send it back to me for a refund as it doesnt fullfill your expectation and I had advertised it with an adequate description of its capabilities then I dont see why the retailer cant charge a restock fee .

    Ive worked on returns for firms and some of them come back in an appalling state and are in no way shape or form re sellable . I dont see how a lot of retailers would take kindly to it . They dont operate a hire business .

    Ive seen manuals written on and mangled . Boxes torn open and the usual packing materials missing and or driver cds, cables etc . Or my personal favorite . The whole lot lobbed in a jiffy bag minus the box entirely.

    If the product is as described then Im sorry but any refund you get should be proportionate to the use you have had out of it and the condition it comes back in .

    Charging fees for faulty products is plain wrong . I wouldnt expect to pay shipping on a return if its faulty either .

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So are component sellers selling to businesses or consumers now?

    When they had the big debate over showing prices inc or exc VAT it was concluded that PC components sellers were 'trade' sellers and only needed to show exc VAT prices. If they are still classed as 'trade' then Consumer law doesn't apply.

    Some clarification on how they're classed is probably needed.

    and @ Steve Sutton, refunds on delivery charges - both to and from the retailer - are down to the individual retailer and not enshrined in law.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Retailers not accepting liability

    What pisses me off is when an item fails after a few months and the seller just tells you to contact the manufacturer. Many manufacturers are inaccessible (like they only talk Japanese, never answer the phone and their web sites kill your browser dead). Some are OK of course, but others just refer you back to the seller. You can easily get a stand-off and unless you know the correct bits of law to quote you won't get a solution.

    My approach is always to go after the retailer and quote consumer protection laws at them (if it's not business, of course). But you do have to be very insistent. They are often quite rude to you on the phone. A recent case with a fridge-freezer comes to mind. (Delivered faulty and they wanted to make an appointment to send a man out to repair it!! They got short shrift from me and i insisted on a new one ASAP. Electrolux was the name.)

    @Alan Parsons

    I hate that accounts thing too. I've lost count of how many amazon accounts I've set up and then forgotten about. I recently discovered that cclonline had stored my credit card details in my account after I asked them not to. I complained. Did I get a response? You guess.

  35. Richard
    Thumb Down

    Retailers and manufactuers

    Retailers need to get it into their thick skulls that when something is faulty or missing it's up to THEM to rectify the situation and not the manufacturer. When a sale takes place, the contract is between the buyer and seller, NOT the manufacturer.

    A few years ago I bought a Parrot Bluetooth car kit from The kit arrived with several items missing, but fortunately, not essential to its operation. They were listed and pictured on the box, but weren't inside it. I contacted about it and asked them if they could send me the parts. They told me that they wouldn't be able to do that, and that I'd need to contact Parrot directly if I wanted the "allegedly" missing parts. I pointed out to them that under consumer protection law, my contract was with and as such they had to deal with the matter, not Parrot. Again, I got fobbed off. I contacted Trading Standards, who confirmed what I'd been saying, who said they might write to When I gave them a chance to redeem themselves, by saying that I'd let Trading Standards know that the matter had been resolved if they were willing to, they gave me a load of abuse for having contacted Trading Standards about them!

  36. Anonymous Hero
    Thumb Up

    ...another shower of chancers. I had to pay a fortune to send back a mobo and video card both DOA (fortunately I had two of each because I was building PC's for a couple of pals so it was pretty easy to diagnose the fault), took them 10 days to finally admit the gear was duff. No surprise that I haven't used them again. Subsequently spent around three grand elsewhere over the past four years.

    Best experience to be honest is my local PC World (no don't larf), they seem to take stuff back no questions asked and some of their deals if reserved in store via their website are as good as the usual bulk shifters.

    I also love the look on the sales drones faces when I buy something from Dixons/Comet/etc and the bod tries to frighten me into shelling out for the 'extended warranty' and I quote them the 'reasonable lifetime/fit for purpose' speal. Kinda leaves them red faced because they know full well the rules about expected product lifetimes.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    PC World

    PC World are quick to take stuff back because they've all lost the will to live!

    Went to them for the usual online reservation. Watched the spod wander round the store for 15 minutes looking for said printer. Came back eventually to say the computer said they had 15 in stock but they were nowhere to be seen.

    I was leant on them. Had been when I handed him the printout. Obviously he'd grown a blank spot directly infront of the customer service desk, around where the customers usually stand shouting.

    Hence the phrase "Can't see the Epson for the fat technician"

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Sutton

    Dabs are not breaking the DSR regarding delivery charges. Provided they have specified that they will not be accountable for returning the goods or the cost of returning the goods before the sale. This only applies to change of mind or cancelled purchases.

  39. Iain Thomas

    @Michelle/Hard Drives.


    When doing the Seagate warranty thing, towards the end, they ask where you want to ship the drive. The default is them abroad (could well be the Netherlands). But in the list there's a remailer option (in Coventry I think).

    Moral? Read the question carefully.


    Regards, Iain.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DSR 2000 etc

    If you have a item which has or develops a fault within its warranty period then the retailer should either pay for the return costs or reimburse you these costs.

    Under the distants selling regulations you have 7 days (starting from the day after you receive the item) to decide if you would like to return it for a exchange or refund.

    If you return unwanted goods then you pay the postage, the retailer does not have to reimburse return postage costs on unwanted goods.

    You must also return everything you receive, basically if you don't return 100% of what you paid for you are not entitled to a 100% refund (perishable parts are excluded from this)

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous coward re warranties

    The UK legal situation is that warranties are IN ADDITION to your statutory rights which are laid out in the invaluable Sale of Goods Act 1979 (mainly Sections 13 and 14). Warranties exist between the manufacturer and the customer, but the contract (enforced by SoGA) is between the retailer and the customer. Your first resort should always to be to deal with the retailer under contract law - NOT the manufacturer with whom your relationship is much less strong.*

    Goods out of warranty may still be found wanting under SoGA in that they may be defective or simply not fit for the advertised purpose.

    SoGA does not lay down a maximum term for when it can be applied, but IIRC from my law lectures it is something like six years - but on a diminishing scale. Naturally wear and tear and reasonable lifetimes have to be taken into account before any compensation can be awarded. Interestingly, any goods that fail within six months of purchase are considered to have been defective when purchased (this applies from March 2003).

    If goods fail after working for a while you are *not* entitled to reject the goods and obtain a refund; but you are entitled to a repair at the retailer's expense or a replacement item (unless the cost of the repair would be disproportionate or a replacement item cannot be obtained in which case you are entitled to a refund).

    If goods fail immediately, do not work as advertised, or a reasonable amount of work cannot get them to work, then you are entitled to reject the goods as 'not fit for purpose' and either obtain a replacement or a full refund from the retailer. The retailer may not charge for this.

    * Although EC law is strengthening the legal obligations of warranties and this situation may change in the future. Certainly 2 year warranties are becoming much more common as companies harmonise their conditions throughout the EU.


  42. Steve Roper

    @ Alan Parsons

    Actually, there's a reason eCommerce websites need your details and set up customer accounts. It's called delivery... How exactly are we supposed to ship an item you ordered to you if you don't give us your name and postal address? Furthermore, the reason we require user accounts is so that you can login securely and track your purchase, so if it doesn't arrive in a timely fashion you can go online and find out where it is. Having user accounts also makes it much easier for us to track customer inquiries via email or over the phone, allowing us to provide more efficient service. If you need to return an item, it enables us to facilitate the return, verify that you bought the product from us, and protects your consumer rights also. Finally, the law in Australia (where we operate from) requires us to retain all transaction information, including amounts, product info, and shipping address, for 7 years from the purchase date.

    Like most reputable operators, we deploy extensive security on our databases, we do not allow staff to copy or remove information from our databases (unlike certain UK gov entities), we do not store credit card details on our systems at all (this info is kept by our bank and can only be released back under specific legal circumstances), and never provide details to any third party unless compelled to do so under force of law.

    You say you found a site that didn't make you create a customer account. Sorry, but that's nonsense. What you found was a site that didn't allow you access (via a username and password) to your customer account. They would still have created one, because the law, necessity of delivery, and standard accounting practice requires them to do so; it just wouldn't be accessible by you. So you actually REDUCED your own ability to track your purchases by going to that site. ALL online stores will retain all details you provide (other than full card data) whether you have a user-accessible account or not - they have to. So I fail to understand what your problem is. If it's privacy concerns, then it makes no difference whether you have a user accessible account or not - your details are still stored. The only other thing I can think of is the small time it takes to type in a username and password; hardly a problem!

    I personally would consider a site that DIDN'T allow you to create a customer account to be disreputable.

  43. Ed Gould
    Thumb Down

    In The US we have hidden fees called shipping

    Example 3 weeks ago I attempted to order 2 tubes (8 OZ) each of a medication.

    The price was reasonable and everything was fine till I got to the check out and found that shipping was going to cost more than the product. I wrote a note to the web site and got back $12 shipping was cheap. The 2 items cost (total) $11 (US).

    I wrote back and suggested they rethink shipping charge, I have a drugstore down the block that had the items and no shipping and for less money.

    It pays to shop around.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Restocking fees - fair enough when there is no fault, and returned in bad condition

    If you buy an item online, take it out of the box and decide you don't want it, then obviously you should be able to return it without a restocking fee.

    However, if you start playing around with it, take some of the internal packaging out and generally reduce the resale value for the retailer, then it's fair enough that there should be a restocking fee. Why should the retailer have to take the hit in these circumstances when it's perfectly avoidable?

    My advice is look after the packaging etc, until you know if you definitely want to keep it.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Roper

    I think the problem is more with sites that require you to create an account before you've got to the payment bit. On numerous occasions I've gone through all the rigmarole of creating an account only to get to the final stages to find out that the site will not ship outside the USA for example. This is something I try to look for before deciding to order but is not usually published and I've had plenty of experience of looking. It's amazing how many US companies either don't know there is an outside world or point you in the direction of their UK/Europe based site so they can charge double. So now I create a dummy user account until I can see the shipment options and if I'm happy with those then start again with my actual details. There has only been on downside to this so far when the dummy account had locked the last item in stock even though I had stopped the transaction before entering any payment method. But this was to the disadvantage of the retailer who lost a sale and I just found a different site.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Roper

    Sorry you want me to create an account so you can ship me something?

    Why not just take my shipping address and name at the end?

    I will tell you what actually happens with most "must create an account" retailers I come across:

    1. I put stuff in my basket

    2. I then got purchase

    3. You get me to create an account

    4. Then you show me the "final" cart with all the cr***y charges you have decided to add on.

    5. I get to the shipping screen and you still ask me for a shipping address

    6. I pay

    7. You send me the stuff

    8. For months afterwards you abuse my account by sending me offers and stuff I don't want, this is the real reason why you want me to create an account of course, rather than just taking my shipping details at the appropriate point.

    If you are slightly less reputable you will then "pass on" my details to other companies, for my benefit of course, which will be buried in your terms and conditions.

    I have some great stories of retailers who when I purchased items from them I got an email back, because their sales desk email address was incorrect, the email that was sent to the sales desk included my email address and the password I used to create my account!

    As for tracking I have yet to come across good companies who can give me anything useful via their online tracking, other than "Processing" or "Shipped", real useful.

  47. Wesley Aldred

    Scan Computers

    Just felt i should post to clarify a few points in relation to

    Can I just confirm that SCAN Computers DO NOT charge restocking fee's at all on items returned faulty within warranty, nor do we ever charge restocking fee's on goods returned for refund inline and incompliance with Distance Selling Regulations.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @DSR 2000 etc

    I think you should re-read the regulations; if you want to send something back within 7 days, you ARE entitled to the P&P back, and you have NO obligation to pay P&P on items you send back. There are exceptions (perishables, CDs, DVDs, software), but look at section 3.48 of the DTI's "A guide for businesses on distance selling"; its very specific that you have refund P&P.

  49. Wesley Aldred

    DSR 2000

    Who pays for returning the goods if the consumer cancels

    an order?

    3.55 If you want the consumer to return the goods and to pay for that

    return, you must make it clear in the contract and as part of the

    required written information – see paragraph 3.10. If the consumer

    then fails to return the goods, or sends them at your expense, you

    can charge them the direct cost to you of the return, even if you

    have already refunded the consumer’s money.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Just had a look at scan's T&C's.

    Part II b) appears to say, suppose I order a computer for next day delivery, and pay with my credit card but (for whatever reason) they don't have one, then they are entitled to keep my money for 60+ days, even If I decide I want to cancel. (they have 30 days to fulfil the order, then can make me another offer, if I decline they have 30 days to refund).

    Or have I got this wrong? If not, do people actually find this acceptable??

    Maybe no-one except me reads the T&C's. For example, paypal's say they can charge me anything they like any time they like - against the bank account I have to give them. I don't think so!

    (Please ignore me if I start to foam at the mouth and roll around on the floor. Oh good! Here comes the nice Lady with my medicine!)

  51. dek

    Funny ha ha

    When I complained to them about a certain company and their not-so-transparent pricing they didn't want to know. Can't help thinking this is their annual "let's justify our existence" exercise... paper exercise that is.

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Insist that you pay for and organise the return of faulty goods when it is their responsibility under the distance selling regs. recently lost in the high court for trying the same.

    I have been assured many times that my costs will be refunded, but as yet it seems to have been conveniently forgotten. I feel a court case comming on.

  53. Jay
    Paris Hilton

    @AC - PC World

    Same thing (sort of) happened to me. Reserved a printer, turned up and handed over the reservation confirmation to the sales droid. He then looked over at the reserved rack where there was no printer and got all confused. I then waited around for about 10 minutes whilst he looked all round the shop. Needless to say there was no printer to be found.

    Bloody useless. Mind you if I'd had my brain switched on that day I could have probably gone to Currys (ironically also DSG) two doors down and picked up the very same printer.

    Paris as she and PC World suck.

  54. no

    DSA understanding...

    ".. why i no longer put any of our companies IT purchasing through"

    Then maybe you should actually look at what the DSA says. It does NOT apply to companies, only individuals.

    Its amazing that someone in charge of buying doesn't understand something so basic about the DSA.

  55. Bruce Sinton eagles

    A lot of legal advice given by people who are "Anonymous Coward".

    I wouldn't put any faith in such statements. Why do they remain anonymous?


  56. Steve Roper

    @ Chris W and AC (Friday 14th March 2008 08:35 GMT)

    What you guys are saying I concur with. Our own sites don't do this; a customer comes onto any of our sites without having to log in, can add items to the shopping cart, and the shopping cart (designed in-house by us, not an off-the-shelf solution) displays the total amount of purchase, including any P&P etc, to the customer at all times during the shopping process. What you see in our shopping cart is what you pay at the checkout - and I agree with you quite a few sites don't do this, and they should!

    Then at the checkout, just before the separate credit card details page, you are asked for a name, postal address, email address, username and password (all required to complete the transaction) plus optionally, work/home/mobile phone if you want us to be able to contact you that way. For any subsequent purchases, you have merely to login with your username and password, and these details (except the credit card info) are filled out automatically from the database.

    Our terms and conditions to online retailers using our sites and systems include not spamming the databases; we allow them to send ONE newsletter per month to clients and the newsletter MUST include unsubscribe information (Australian law requires the latter anyway). Since we control and administer all our retailers' websites ourselves, this is easy to enforce, and it is easy to ensure that customers who unsubscribe don't get any more newsletters.

    The only issue some might have is our opt-in/opt-out system; our "Send me a monthly newsletter" checkbox is checked by default, and those who really don't want to recieve newsletters can easily uncheck it. I'll be honest here: if it was unchecked by default, few would specifically check it, and many who might otherwise be interested in the newsletter might not even think to check it. Those who are not interested in receiving newsletters (and I can assure you they ARE in a minority - about 1 unsubscribe/don't send for every 150 customers!) invariably look for such checkboxes and uncheck them.

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