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Retailers extend returns policies during lockdown following pressure from Which?

Sports Direct and House of Fraser among the stores that have now updated their returns policies during the COVID-19 lockdown

Retailers extend returns policies during lockdown following pressure from Which?

A number of well-known retailers, all part of the Mike Ashley-owned Frasers Group, have extended their returns windows after Which? called on them to review their policies.

House of Fraser, Firetrap, Flannels, Jack Wills, Lillywhites, Sports Direct and USC were insisting that customers post unwanted items back within 28 days of receipt, despite clear rules from the government stating people should only leave their homes for food shopping or exercise.

None of the retailers offer a home collection service for returns. This means that people who are self-isolating or shielding would have been unable to return or exchange their unwanted items, while others would have had to break the lockdown rules to go and post their returns back.

The retailers have now updated their policies, allowing customers to return items after stores reopen.

Which? is calling for all retailers to extend their returns policies during the coronavirus lockdown unless they’re able to safely send a courier to collect the item from customers’ homes.


‘I’m not going to queue up in a Post Office’

Before the Frasers Group retailers changed their returns policies, we spoke to Ricky Maloney, who wanted to return clothes to designer store Flannels.

He told Which?: ‘I’ve been working from home since 12 March and have only left the house once in that time to take the dog to the vets,’ he told us. ‘I’m not going to go and queue up in the Post Office just to send some t-shirts back, no matter how expensive they are.’

Many of the other Frasers Group retailers were also asking customers to return items via registered post, and had not updated their returns windows for in-store or online purchases.

Which? called on the retailers to extend their policies or arrange a courier collection service for returns. None of the retailers responded, but they have now updated their websites with new policies.

Firetrap, Lillywhites, Sports Direct and USC are now accepting returns for both in-store and online purchases for up to 14 days after stores have reopened.

Flannels, House of Fraser and Jack Wills are giving customers 28 days to return items after their stores reopen.

Only use the Post Office if it’s essential

Many people use the Post Office when they want to return an online purchase.

However, the Post Office has asked people to consider whether their parcel is essential before putting staff at risk by visiting a branch.

Though the Frasers Group retailers are still accepting returns via the post, it might be worth waiting to return your items when stores reopen.

Which retailers are extending their returns policies?

Most retailers are either allowing customers to return items once stores have reopened, or offering a free courier collection service from customers’ homes (adhering to social distancing measures).

However, don’t assume all retailers are extending their windows. It’s best to check the individual retailer’s policy before ordering – and if it’s unclear, contact them to ask.

Some retailers will charge you for the courier collection service if you do choose to return any items.

Our table below outlines what some of the major retailers are doing to extend their policies.

Retailer Returns window for online purchases Returns window for in-store purchases
Apple 14 days after stores reopen. 14 days after stores reopen.
Arcadia Group (Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Topman, Topshop, Wallis) Within 45 days of receipt. 14 days after stores reopen.
Argos Items bought from 1 March can be returned up to 30 days after stores reopen. Items bought from 1 March can be returned up to 30 days after stores reopen.
B&Q Within 135 days of purchase. Within 135 days of purchase.
Currys PC World 21 days after stores reopen. 21 days after stores reopen.
Debenhams 14 days after stores reopen. 14 days after stores reopen.
Decathlon Once stores have reopened. Late returns will be honoured. Once stores have reopened. Late returns will be honoured.
Evans Cycles 90 days after stores reopen for anything bought on or after 30 December 2019. ‘Right Bike Guarantee’ extended to 30 days after stores reopen. 90 days after stores reopen for anything bought on or after 30 December 2019. ‘Right Bike Guarantee’ extended to 30 days after stores reopen.
Fraser Group stores including House of Fraser, Flannels, Jack Wills, Lillywhites, Sports Direct and USC – other retailers in Group may have different policies

Firetrap, Lillywhites, Sports Direct and USC are accepting returns for up to 14 days after stores have reopened.

Flannels, House of Fraser and Jack Wills are giving customers 28 days to return items after their stores reopen.

Firetrap, Lillywhites, Sports Direct and USC are now accepting returns for up to 14 days after stores have reopened.

Flannels, House of Fraser and Jack Wills are giving customers 28 days to return items after their stores reopen.

Go Outdoors 28 days after stores reopen. 28 days after stores reopen.
Homebase 30 days after stores reopen. 30 days after stores reopen.
Ikea 365-day returns policy. Returns accepted once stores reopen, including on items where the 365 days end while stores are closed. 365-day returns policy. Returns accepted once stores reopen, including on items where the 365 days end while stores are closed.
JD Sports 28 days – you can arrange a home collection. 28 days after stores reopen.
John Lewis 35 days – you can arrange a home collection. 35 days after stores reopen for anything bought on or after 18 February 2020.
M&S 90 days, except on sale items. 90 days, except on sale items. In-store purchases should be returned after stores have reopened.
Matalan 14 days after stores reopen. 14 days after stores reopen.
Next Free home collection available. Returns will also be honoured for 14 days after stores reopen. 14 days after stores reopen.
Not On The High Street Returns policy unchanged (28 days); anyone who can’t post their returns should contact NOTHS or the seller.
Robert Dyas Returns policy extended to 30 days. Smaller items can be collected, larger ones will have to wait until stores reopen. If you are self-isolating, RD will explain how to make your return on a case-by-case basis. 30 days after stores reopen for any item bought since 1 March.
TK Maxx 30 days after stores reopen. 30 days after stores reopen.
Very 50 days.
Waterstones 60 days for any orders placed on or after 23 March.
WHSmith Return window extended by three months. You can return by post or wait for stores to reopen. Return window extended by three months, so you can return when shops reopen.
Wickes 30 days after stores reopen for any item purchased from 1 March 2020. 30 days after stores reopen for any item purchased from 1 March 2020.
Zara 30 days after stores reopen. 30 days after stores reopen.

Mike Ashley-owned retailers under fire for coronavirus response

This isn’t the first time Mike Ashley-owned retailers have received criticism since coronavirus hit the UK.

Last month, Ashley attempted to keep Sports Direct stores open despite the strict lockdown rules on which types of shops could still operate.

After finally agreeing to shut stores, the retailer was accused by its staff of reportedly hiking prices of sports equipment by 50%.

You might be unsurprised to learn that Sports Direct and House of Fraser also performed poorly in the latest Which? survey on the best and worst online shops, coming in joint-97th out of 100 retailers.

To find out which sites are worth spending your money with, check out our guide to the best and worst online shops.

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