The 5 best returns tips for your online purchases

While getting two of the same pair of socks at Christmas isn’t too bad, what if you get two pullovers? Everyone receives a gift now and again that they can’t find a use for. With a little luck, it can be returned. But aside from that, when shopping online you should take a close look at the return conditions. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

When shopping online, you can’t inspect the goods before you buy them. That’s why distance selling legislation is there to protect you against nasty little surprises. This means that if you don’t like an item, you can rely on this legislation and return the item within two weeks of receipt. The item doesn’t even have to show signs of being defective. Many shops go beyond this, and offer an extended right of return. These include Zalando, the clothing and footwear retailer, with its 100-day returns policy – and Ikea, which offers a whopping 365 days. We’ve got some handy tips for you which explain what you need to watch out for BEFORE making a purchase.

Tip 1: Check the deadlines

When buying something online, by law you have a two-week right to cancel commencing from the time you receive the goods. Typically, this is the moment you take receipt of the parcel from the courier or collect it from the post office. The shop may also offer a right of return, in which case the deadlines are usually longer. Among other things, check out the shop’s terms and conditions for further information. Shops with longer deadlines also like to advertise this fact. The difference between the right of return and the right to cancel is that with the right of return, you need to return the goods by the deadline. In the case of the right to cancel, you initially just need to send an email or write a letter giving notice to the retailer.

Tip 2: What’s the deal with Christmas presents?

If the Christmas gift you’re expecting turns out to be anything but, you should just face facts. That’s better than leaving it gathering dust in the cellar or ending up on eBay. The problem is that the 14-day return policy offered by many retailers simply isn’t long enough and often expires soon after the Christmas holidays. As such, it’s better to buy (or have gifts bought) from retailers that have a 30-day policy or longer. Beyond this, some shops like Amazon, Otto, and Apple offer specially extended deadlines for Christmas purchases. At Amazon, for instance, any goods purchased between November 1 and December 31 can be returned at any time up to January 31.

Tip 3: Pay close attention to marketplaces

What many don’t know is that on major shopping sites such as Amazon, besides Amazon itself there are thousands of other retailers selling their products – and under their own terms and conditions. As such, don’t just pay attention to the price, but also to the return conditions. It can be annoying when you save a euro on textiles compared to other offers, but you need to pay the return postage fees if the product doesn’t fit.

You need to watch out, particularly on Amazon. There are many retailers active on this platform with different terms and conditions.

Tip 4: Who pays the return postage fee?

If the value of the goods exceeds €40 it used to be the case that the retailer would cover the return postage fee, but this consumer-friendly rule no longer applies. Since the introduction of the EU Consumer Rights Directive in June 2014, retailers are free to decide whether or not to cover the postage fees themselves or pass this on to the customer. The good news is that most major online shops still pay your return fees.

Tip 5: Keep hold of your proof of posting

Typically, goods are returned by post. You then get a receipt from the parcel service with a consignment number on it. Keep hold of this until the retailer confirms it has received the returned goods or you’ve got your money back. This allows you to prove that you sent the parcel back in good time. Here’s some useful info: The online shop is liable for any transport risks. If the consignment gets lost in the post or gets damaged, it’s not your problem.

This post is also available in: German