Consumers have the right to return and claim a refund for defective products purchased online.
Christmas is dawning upon us, and buying presents at major shopping centers
with worsening traffic conditions can be draining and time-consuming. That is why many consumers resort to online shopping as an alternative to buying from brick-and-mortar stores. Almost everyone nowadays has internet connection at home, making online shopping accessible to most consumers.
Besides accessibility, consumers favor online shopping because of the convenience. With online shops, it only takes a few scrolls and clicks to get what you want and have the package delivered to you.
However, along with the pros come the cons. One of the major setbacks with making online purchases is that consumers can’t personally inspect or check the products for any defects. What can consumers do on cases that the product delivered is defective or broken upon arrival?
According to Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, consumers have the right to have any purchased item be returned, exchange, and refunded if the items are deemed broken or defective. This is called the right to redress, one of eight basic consumer rights provided for by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This means that the consumer has the right to be compensated in case of misrepresentation, or being given shoddy goods or services.
The good news is that major online shops like Zalora and Lazada, as well as online shops of famous brands, have return and exchange policies which customers can take advantage of.
Firstly, the shopper must check the return policy of the online shop. This is because online shops have different return and refund policies. Some major shops post certain guidelines and conditions before making a return, along with the procedures to follow. To be sure, check the specific set rules of the shop from where you made a purchase.
Though return policies differ from one shop to another, one thing major online shops have in common is the period for returning an item. Consumers are generally given at least seven days to return an item. Some retailers even give shoppers up to 14 or 30 days. The return period is counted from the date of purchase by the consumer.
Returning an item
While you can return most items bought online, there are also exceptions. One of these is underwear and swimsuits which can’t be returned for hygienic reasons.
When returning clothing, some shops indicate that the item should be unused or unworn by the customer. Some even suggest that the price tags should not be removed from the item.
For websites like Lazada and Toby’s Sports
, the customer has to fill up a return form which must be submitted along with the item to be reimbursed. These forms can be often found on the retailer’s website. Depending on the shop, the customer also has the option to have the package picked up by the courier from their home address, or have it dropped off to the delivery service designated by the retailer.
The package should include the items to be returned along with its original packaging. If the item consists of many parts, all parts must be included. For electronic items such as computers, cellphones, smartphones
, tablets, and laptops, customers must delete all personal information such as usernames and passwords for security purposes.
The receipt is one of the primary requirements for the return. It’s also important for the customer to keep the sales invoice or any proof of purchase from the website.
The customer must also state the reason for returning the item. If the product is defective, customers always have the right to return it. But for other reasons like a change of mind or having the wrong size or color, it is the prerogative of the retailer to accept the returned item or not.
Getting a refund
When items are returned, retailers have to check the item first to determine if the customer should be reimbursed. This is why some online retailers issue a refund only after inspecting the returned item.
Refund methods vary depending on the customer’s payment method. Debit and credit card holders have the option to have a reverse credit, which is having the transaction removed from the customer’s account. This also applies to international purchases.
When paying through cash on delivery, customers can claim refunds by bank transfer, store credit, or remittance from the courier. Other shops also consider online vouchers as a way of compensation.
Remember that online shops will only refund the purchased item, and not the shipping fee. In cases where the online shop also has physical stores, the customer can’t simply ask for a reimbursement at any branch. The outlets will not be able to give cash for reimbursement. However, there are also some shops like Bench
which encourage customers to visit any branch of their store for returns.
While all these guidelines work for major online shops, the case might be different for individual online shops that can be found on social media websites like Facebook and Instagram, as well as online-selling websites such as OLX, Shoppee, Carousel, and Ebay. Most of these shops don’t issue official receipts.
In sum, consumers should keep in mind that they always have the right to return, exchange, or refund a defective item. The customer should negotiate with the seller on the process of returning items. If the seller does not comply, the customer can report the said shop to the DTI Direct Call Center or at the nearest DTI outlet.