Shoppers urged to know their rights when returning clothes  – The Office of Fair Trading.

Shoppers urged to know their rights when returning clothes

133/11    9 December 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. January is the peak month for complaints about clothes which this year were around 40 per cent higher than during an average month.

When you buy clothes, even when they are in a sale, your purchase must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. If this is not the case, the items are faulty and you are within your legal rights to ask for a refund, repair or replacement.

The OFT’s Know Your Consumer Rights campaign advises you to:

  • Check the shop’s return policy when buying on the high street. If you simply change your mind, you won’t have any legal right to a refund, however many stores do offer additional rights to return as part of their customer service.
  • Check the clothes you have bought as soon as possible and before using them. If you do find a fault, don’t wear them and contact the trader or return them as soon as possible.
  • When buying clothes online you usually have seven working days from when your clothes arrive to change your 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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  1. In the year to date, clothing ranks tenth highest at three per cent of total complaints to Consumer Direct. In 2010 clothing ranked eighth highest at 3.1 per cent of total complaints.
  2. Used cars continues to be the top complaint to Consumer Direct, see further advice from the OFT Know Your Rights campaign on buying a used car.
  3. The OFT Sale of Goods Act Hub provides comprehensive and up to date guidance on the Sale of Goods Act for retailers and business support organisations. It is a free to use online resource which is designed to help sales staff comply with the law when customers buy or return goods.