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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 78244
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I have a business and it is selling goods online. I have had

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Hello, I have a business and it is selling goods online. I have had a customer return a product that they said would not fit. They have returned the item and it is badly damaged which it was not when they had the item. Do I have to accept this product back as a return or can I deny the return and send the product back to the customer?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: United Kingdom
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I have had the product returned to me and inspected it which was when I found the damage
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: no
Hello, I’m Ben, a solicitor, and it’s my pleasure to assist you. I may ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.
Customer: replied 19 days ago.

Do you know if it was damaged in transit or by the customer? 

I also wanted to make you aware that this is not always an instant service, due to various legal engagements I could have and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I am dealing with your query and will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks.

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
I have checked the packaging and the box is not damaged at all, I can only assume this was damaged by the customer.

Thank you. Have you approached the customer to query that damage?

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
I have contacted him explaining that the items have been received back damaged
Customer: replied 19 days ago.
My main question is, do I have to accept the return back if the customer sends a product back that they have damaged during the course of there handling of the item?

Thank you very much for clarifying. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues brought up by this. It must be a frustrating situation to go be going through.

Whilst the customer has the right to return the goods they bought online, they have a duty to return them in the same condition they received them. If this was a brand-new item, then obviously it means that the goods must not be damaged when returned and only signs of reasonable use to determine their suitability would be acceptable.

For example, if the goods were packaged it is acceptable for them not to be in the original packaging, or for it to be opened, to allow the customer to satisfy themselves of their suitability, before deciding to return them. However, that would not include damage beyond what normal use may be expected to check the goods.

On that basis you can indeed reject to refund them, or at least deduct a portion to cover the depreciation in value as a result of the damage.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Thank you. Is there any legal term that I can say to customers when this happens?

Hello again and thank you for your further queries, which I will be more than happy to answer. This is all covered under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 which give the consumer the right to return the goods in the first place.

Reg 34 states the following:

“(9) If (in the case of a sales contract) the value of the goods is diminished by any amount as a result of handling of the goods by the consumer beyond what is necessary to establish the nature, characteristics and functioning of the goods, the trader may recover that amount from the consumer, up to the contract price.”

I trust that everything has now been dealt with to your satisfaction and your original question has been resolved. If you have any further queries about it, please do not hesitate to get back to me on here. In the meantime, I wish you all the best.

Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Hello Ben,
Thank you for your assistance in the first instance.We have had a case opened with the courier service, and they have deemed that the damage caused was by insufficient packaging.I have emailed the customer and sent him the legislation you sent to me, and I have told him that we will be returning the item to him at the next available date via courier.I have been emailing this customer back and forth. It appears he is not accepting this judgement and does not think he was responsible for returning the item with sufficient packaging to protect the return from damage.I will attach the email transcript in a message to you. Do you have any advice on how I should proceed to solve this issue?
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Please see the attached transcript.

Hello, thanks for getting in touch. We do kindly ask that customers post any related follow up queries within 7 days of submitting their original question. After that time, if you need further support, we would request that a new question is posted as we cannot offer indefinite assistance under one query. If you need any further help on this matter please post it as a new question on our site, thanks