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'Restocking fee' when returning a item


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Short version

My question is: can a retailer charge a blanket fixed-percentage restocking fee for items being returned as unwanted?


Longer version!

The situation I read about in a recent sales thread ( https://www.basschat.co.uk/topic/348016-withdrawn/  ) was that a bass was bought online, then returned after seven days due to change of mind.  The retailer however are charging a 10% restocking fee.

I'm not a consumer rights expert by any means, but my layperson understanding is that when returning an item bought online/on the phone, generally no 'restocking fee' can be charged.


Quoting from 'Consumer Contracts Regulations' (my emphasis added)


(1) The trader must reimburse all payments, other than payments for delivery, received from the consumer, subject to paragraph (10).
(8) The trader must not impose any fee on the consumer in respect of the reimbursement.
(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.

FWIW I recently returned an item to PMT and there was no restocking fee; and to Thomann, where not only was there no restocking fee but they even covered the return postage back to Germany (this is their own generous policy, over and above statutory requirements)

So in this instance, the retailer in question cannot charge a blanket 10% on all returns.  I think they only thing they could do is examine the bass after it's been received back and point out there is now a scratch etc where there wasn't one before, and recover that amount.  Is my interpretation correct, and has anyone pushed back on a blanket restocking fee from any retailer and what was the outcome?

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as long as you are returning the goods within the timescales for which you have the statutory protection under distance selling regulations, they cannot change you anything (but as @paul_c2 says you will have to pay the return postage).  Even if it's in their Ts & Cs - they cannot point at these and claim that you have agreed to something that breaches your statutory rights

However, if you are returning the item outside of the statutory period, then the store can charge it.  So from the thread in question, it depends on whether the return was requested within 14 days of receipt.

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10 hours ago, paul_c2 said:

No, if it was bought online. But if its simply unwanted, you are responsible for the return postage (and they can't impose conditions like to use a particular, expensive etc courier - it just needs to get there, so you can choose).

It does need to get there, in one piece, and you are responsible for its well being on it's journey back.. so you might be wise not to choose the cheapest courier!

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Bass Direct Guarantee

At Bass Direct, we offer a 48 hour approval period on all purchases purchased in store and 7 days for items purchased online or over the telephone. We understand that it may seem risky to purchase an item that you may not have had a chance to try out personally.  We have countless happy customers who have purchased instruments and other items ‘sight unseen’.  We’re here to help ensure you make well informed decisions so your buying experience is as smooth as possible.  We represent manufacturers who produce some of the best looking, best sounding, and longest lasting bass gear on the market.  If you're not totally satisfied with your purchase, we'll refund the entire purchase price of the item (less transportation both ways). 


Please note. All dimensional and weight figures quoted on our site are for reference only, if exact figures are required please make sure you request these.


Bass Direct Return Policy

Most products such as Basses, Amplifiers, Bass Enclosures, Effects and other items containing electronics are fully tested by Bass Direct before they are shipped out. If an item is not working properly upon delivery, contact Bass Direct upon finding the problem.  

We may be able to trouble shoot any issues on the spot.  If it is determined that there is an issue with an internal component, Bass Direct will contact the respective manufacture in order to determine the fastest method to get the item fixed or replaced.

If you should decide to return an item for any other reason, please first contact us via phone or email.  We will issue a Return Authorisation number (RA#) for the return shipment.  The Return Authorisation number should appear on the outside of the package being returned.  Upon receipt of the return, we will inspect the item.

Please note: there is a 10% re-stocking fee on all items returned that are not faulty.

Returned items are to be sent back in the condition it was received and in the original packaging. Customers that return a damaged or used item will not receive a full refund and will be responsible for the full payment price of the product.

Items that have been abused, returned with exterior blemishes, scratched, or have incurred other damages consistent with mishandling of the product will not be eligible for refund.

Bass Direct reserves the right to determine, at our discretion, if an item that has been returned qualifies for a refund or exchange.

Customers are responsible for all shipping costs where an item is returned that is not faulty.

So it looks like they have a 7 days return policy, which isn't really right as it should be a 14 day one under distance selling regulations.
But they look like they have a return policy outwith that 7 day period that they have the restocking fee on. 

So I presume the fella you are referring too had had the bass more than 7 days. Less than 14 then naughty on the shop... but more than 14 then it's not a bad policy for them to have from the buyers POV. 

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Seems like they haven’t updated their policy since it changed (from 7 days) a couple of years ago. You have 14 days from receipt of the item to tell the seller that you want to return it, and 14 days from when you notify them to get the item back to them

They are also wrong in law that they will only refund the cost of the item and not the delivery charges.  You have to pay to send it back to them but they have to refund the costs for sending it to you in the first place (although they can limit this to their standard costs and keep anything extra paid for quicker delivery)

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21 minutes ago, dannybuoy said:

I've returned a couple of items that were subject to a 'restocking fee'. I brought up that it was against the distance selling regulations to charge such a fee, and they waived it. 

No, they didn't waive it, they realised you knew the law and stopped trying to rip you off!

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In the commercial world re-stocking or returns handling fees aren't unusual, but not where consumers are concerned. I can understand the reseller's frustration when he's ordered in an item especially on the request of a customer, only to have this, possibly obscure, item returned. But that's the risk they open themselves to when they start up a retail business.

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Some good info in the replies in this thread.  I'm the OP of the thread although the sales thread I saw in this particular case was @GILLY - but it could have been anyone really as many people on this forum buy expensive gear unseen, so in general it's good to understand what consumer rights apply in these situations.  If Bass Direct's T&C are outdated I'd like to think it's due to inadvertence on their part, rather than anything more sinister.  Anyway, if it was me, I'd push back on the 10% fee. It seems it's £108 which they have no claim to.

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Yes it was me and I read this with thread interest but have a different take on it perhaps.


I cannot remember having ever returned something (musical) for a refund simply because I didn't like it which is, in effect, what I have done in this instance.  You could argue that I should have taken the trouble to drive to Warwick to have a proper go on the bass and saved some dosh up front, but a lot of us are seduced by reviews and pictures aren't we(?) and it's dead easy to pick up the phone or buy online...


In this type of instance, I sympathise with the retailer because I have basically asked him to send me a bass to try out in the comfort of my own home and I believe that should come at a price if I decide it's not for me and send it back so I do not necessarily disagree with the 're-stocking' fee because it is far less of a hit than would have been the case if I fell out of love in 6 months time for instance.


All that being said, it is a little remiss of B.D. to be charging for something they are not legally entitled to but I am not going to challenge them because my conscience won't allow!  


P.S.  The bass was fine but my last four basses have been 3xStingrays and an Enfield and the Jake was poles apart as you can imagine. 

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