Online purchases, goodbye to free returns: what to pay attention to and how much you pay

More and more e-commerce are saying goodbye to free returns, considering it an overused tool, which represents a huge expense for companies and a large impact on pollution.
The shipping costs are thus shifted to the customers' account and deducted from the refund, with the hope that consumers will begin to buy and rely on returns in a more reasoned way.
Many companies allow buyers to return the products to the points of sale, so that neither they nor the company has to pay the shipping costs.
With this solution, the expense is replaced by the inconvenience of having to return the goods, as a deterrent to impulse purchases and the excess returns that put truck after truck full of goods to be returned on the road every day.
This trend is becoming more and more vivid both in Italy and abroad, so it will be important to pay attention to company policy before making online purchases.
Otherwise, the return costs may be borne by the buyer and reduce the refund of the price paid.
Despite stringent rules on consumer rights, this is a perfectly legal option.
Here's what's happening and what's changing for online purchases.
The problem of free returns For e-commerce giants, free returns are becoming unmanageable, due to the large costs incurred due to shipping and the destruction of products that customers have used or ruined before returning.
Consequently there is also a high environmental impact, caused precisely by the waste of goods and the huge traffic of goods.
It seems that by taking advantage of free returns, many buyers are abusing this tool, even purchasing unwanted products without thinking too much about it.
A harmful trend, especially widespread for clothing.
The National Retail Federation analyzed that customers returned 17% of goods purchased in 2022 – in America alone – for costs amounting to $816 billion.
The Wall Street Journal also talked about it, according to which companies lose 50% of their margin on returns.
The revolution, however, started in the United Kingdom, where companies began to charge return costs, with a policy that quickly spread to America.
Thus Zara and Asos, but also Uniqlo, Dillard's, H%M, Jc Penney, J.
Crew, Macy'S and Abercrombie & Fitch have established prices for returns.
Mostly reference is made to the clothing sector, given the widespread habit of taking advantage of the right of return to try on clothes comfortably at home, even if the size, color or other details are not to your liking.
Italy is rapidly embracing this innovation and soon the list of e-commerce companies that will ask for payments for returns will grow longer.
The right of withdrawal in online purchases The terms return and withdrawal are often used synonymously, even if the possibility of returning products arises from different rights.
This is not a small difference, especially in light of this change of direction by multinationals which can raise many doubts.
With regards to Italian law, the Consumer Code provides for the right of withdrawal, specifically provided for online purchases.
In fact, it is considered that the consumer does not have all the means to verify that the product conforms to the description and therefore in case of non-conformity he must be able to defend himself.
Thus, customers can exercise the right of withdrawal within 14 days of receiving the goods.
There is no need to provide explanations or additional costs, except for return costs.
Even if the right of withdrawal is guaranteed by law, in fact, the seller can charge the return costs to the customer (or ask him to carry them personally), unless he has initially agreed otherwise.
Free returns in online purchases The return extends the right of withdrawal with what is established by the seller.
It may include longer times, limitations depending on the motivations and different cost allocations.
The return however provides for a refund, therefore we speak of a free return when the seller also bears the shipping costs for the return.
This is a very widespread habit, but as a form of courtesy towards customers and a company policy that is not at all mandatory.
It is no coincidence that returns are often expected by sellers even in physical stores, with the aim of protecting consumer satisfaction and providing a transparent service.
read also How long can a defective dress or one that breaks after a short time be changed? How much does a return cost in Italy? The return includes a refund of the price paid for returning the item, according to the rules set out in the contract.
However, charges for shipping goods to the retailer are becoming more and more frequent, but it is not easy to quantify them unambiguously.
Shipping costs are determined by numerous factors, but sometimes the costs to buyers represent more nominal amounts than a full payment of delivery.
For example, Zara asks for a contribution of 4.95 euros deducted from the refund for each return, but gives the possibility of returning the goods to the store for free.
In the UK, however, Zara charges £1.95 if customers return the product via third-party delivery points.
Yoox, on the other hand, always asks that the return be paid by customers and deducts it from the refund.
So too does Amazon, which specifies "If you return the item in accordance with what is illustrated, you will have the right to obtain a refund of the price paid for the purchase of the returned product (shipping costs incurred are excluded)" by equalizing the costs.
H&M, on the other hand, offers the free service to all members participating in the loyalty program.
For others, the return costs cost 2.99 euros, deducted from the refund.
Abercrombie has instead opted for a real limit on returns, warning customers that from January 24th the return of products (with exchange or refund) will only be possible in the store or with the courier chosen by them.
read also How to get the guarantee without a receipt What to pay attention to Companies are trying to protect their profits, while at the same time teaching an important lesson to those who usually buy online.
Deliveries of goods have a significant impact on environmental pollution, which increases even more if the products have been used and are no longer salable.
We should therefore be more careful and buy in a more conscious and targeted way.
In any case, from today it is good to pay attention to e-commerce policies so as not to suffer an unexpected reduction in the refund.
Every website where you buy goods has a section dedicated to return policies, which is best to consult before purchasing.
The conditions for returning and exchanging the goods are indicated there, with any costs.
In case of doubt, it is best to contact customer service for clarification.
From the moment the contractual conditions are public, payment cannot be objected to.
It is the customer's responsibility to check store policies and organize purchases accordingly.
Furthermore, more convenient return methods are often indicated, via third-party collection points or in-store returns.
However, it is important to ensure that the goods are in good condition, as they were received (also to obtain a full refund).
read also Exchange of goods in store, as long as possible and obligation of the receipt

Author: Hermes A.I.

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