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Returns policy

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Online vendors need to define the conditions in which they will accept returns from customers and refund payments. Online shoppers are more likely to purchase when they have the ability to return items. Some shoppers will review a merchant's returns policy before purchasing, and a fair returns policy increases the likelihood of a sale. Having a clear returns policy builds trust with potential customers.

A returns policy can also provide a vendor with some protection against unreasonable returns by allowing the vendor to set guidelines and give the vendor a basis to refuse to issue refunds for returns that do not meet these guidelines.

The approach in this model returns policy allows you to define a return period and to specify what customers must do in order to qualify for a refund. These requirements may include an obligation to obtain pre-authorisation or to use specified shipping methods. The provisions on returns may also exclude the return of defined types of products (eg personalised or perishable products).

Under distance selling regulations, consumers typically have the right to cancel their contract and return merchandise within a specified period. These regulations also make the seller responsible for the cost of return shipping unless the seller clearly specifies that the consumer must pay for shipping the products back. Our returns policy model takes account of these regulations (although the main distance selling provisions are set out in our terms and conditions of sale templates).

With a returns policy based on our model, you should be able to reassure potential customers about their online shopping experience, to better manage the returns process and more easily justify denying refunds for returns that do not comply with the policy.

  1. Introduction
  2. Returns
  3. Returns procedure
  4. Exclusions
  5. Refunds
  6. Improper returns
  7. Our details

Document statistics

  • Total words: 1429
  • Total characters: 8768
  • Document pages (approx.): 2
  • Guidance notes pages (approx.): 2
  • Total pages (approx., including cover): 5
If the terms and conditions of sale template covers statutory rights of return, how does this document relate to that document? Should this document replace the returns policy in that document?

The right of return under this policy does not replace the right of return under the terms of sale.

These two documents have been prepared on the basis that the (statute-based) rights of return referred to in the terms and conditions of sale are supplemented by the discretionary rights in this document. In other words, the documents implement two distinct rights of return. This means that you can adjust the conditions governing the discretionary right without the risk of unlawfully abridging the statutory right.

Some of our products are customised (by the addition of a company name and other text). If these products are returned, we cannot resell them. How does this returns and refund policy deal with this issue?

Two of the standard exclusions you can include relate to "any product made to your specification" and "any product made to order". You might add to these "any product that is customised for you" to ensure that customisations are excluded.

What happens under this policy where products are returned improperly, for example outside the designated time period?

Assuming there is no statutory right return right in this situation, then the "improper returns" clause should apply in most cases. This says that returns made in contravention of the policy will not lead to any refund or exchange, and that the supplier may retain the returned product until the customer pays a re-delivery charge. If the payment is not made within a specified period following a request for payment, the supplier may destroy or otherwise dispose of the returned product. The extent to which this clause is reasonable and enforceable will depend to some extent upon the particular situation.

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