Returns policy

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A returns policy template designed to cover discretionary returns - in other words, those product returns where a right to return is not mandated by law.

Author: Alasdair Taylor
Updated: 29 August 2020
Length: 3 pages
Notes: 4 pages
Format: MS Word (.DOCX)

The purpose of this returns policy is to define the circumstances in which an online seller will accept product returns from customers and issue refunds. In particular, it is concerned with those circumstances in which the customer does not have a separate legal right to a refund.

There are obvious marketing advantages to offering a returns policy that is more generous than the legal default. A good returns policy builds trust and encourages sales. A policy can set out a defined procedure for the return of products, smoothing the process and limiting the problem of "mystery returns". In addition, a generous policy reduces the scope for resource-consuming conflicts with customers.

A returns policy should not however be over-generous or easily exploited, and should provide protection from unreasonable return requests.

If you are going to offer a returns policy, it should be written down and expressed in precise language, to ensure that customers' expectations align with those of the business.

The approach in this model policy allows you to:

  • define a return period; and
  • 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 (e.g. personalised or perishable products).

This returns policy can be used as a stand-alone document, or incorporated into a general terms and conditions page.

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

If your 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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Clear Policy
16 June 2021  | 

Very helpful policy comes with draft notes and quiet straight forward to edit. This one is quite short but well written and useful.