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Online store deducting cost of "free shipping" from return refund - is this legal?

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Hello everybody,

 

I recently purchased a guitar effects pedal from a store over the internet via PayPal.

I sent it back the next day during the cool-off period.

The shipping in the online ad states free delivery.

 

They have refunded me the cost of the item minus £6.99 for postage.

 

I did a quick web search and came up with:

The Office of Fair Trading;

“The OFT’s view is that the normal postage and packing charges for the delivery, but not the return, of distance sales purchases must always be refunded in addition to the cost of the goods when orders are cancelled during the cooling-off period.”

 

From Out-law.com:

“Online shopping customers who send back goods straight away must not be charged for their delivery, Europe's top court has said. Consumers can be required to pay the cost of returning the goods but should be refunded every other cost, it said. 15 Apr 2010”

 

“The UK's Distance Selling Regulations govern this right and consumer regulator the Office of Fair Trading has previously ruled that refunds must include the cost of postage or delivery of goods.”

 

I contacted the store with this information and they sent me the following reply:

 

"Thank you for your email and I do appreciate your point of view

 

If you change your mind, you can return your purchase in its original condition within 14 days to us for a full refund minus any costs incurred for the initial dispatching using our express courier and any costs incurred by -------- for the returning of the order.

 

Please note that shipping discounts are removed if your full return or partial return takes your order below the free delivery threshold (this only applies for items that have been sent). Orders which have received discounted shipping (for example, free next day shipping) will have to cover the initial express courier dispatching, normally £6.99. The fact that you received free shipping is because we applied a shipping discount to your order and paid this shipping as a goodwill gesture.

 

We do not ship item via any standard (normal) delivery options and ship everything using express next day service therefore we are entitled to recoup any delivery costs from the refund. I am afraid that the £6.99 deduction is correct and does not breach any consumer rights.

 

So, are they correct to deduct the postage or not?

I would be very grateful for any answers to help me resolve this.

 

Thanking you all in advance, Nigel

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The 'free shipping' only applies when sending the item to you.

 

Did you pay the return shipping or did the company? If they paid it then they are probably within their rights to deduct it. If you paid it then you should demand a refund from them.

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I paid the return postage.

 

The quote in italics on my initial post was the reply they sent to me in reponse to my query.

 

So how should I go about making this demand? What law can I quote? How would I word my respone?

 

Thanks, Nigel

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Just to clarify, they have refunded me the cost of the item minus £6.99 for their postage to me. They advertised the postage as free. From what I have read, it seems that they should refund me in total without any deductions.

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If this company is intransigent about not refunding you you will have to weigh up whether it is worth progressing further for £6.99.

 

Probably far better to write some salutary reviews all over the Internet - Facebook, Twitter and the hosts of other review sites that abound.

 

You alternative is a 'Letter Before Action' - but do not do this unless you are prepared to carry through. Your proof will be the original advert showing the 'Free Postage' offer and your proof you paid the return postage and the amount you received in refund plus any correspondence showing why they deducted the amount they did despite their free postage offer.

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Yes its only £6.99 but as a consumer I just want to make sure they are acting according to the law and not in a disengenuous manner thus preventing others from being deceived in the future.

 

It would seem that their reply was to confuse and to state that they are not breaking consumer law.

 

I will see if I can recoup my money via PayPal.

 

Thanks for you advice so far.

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