/ Shopping

Asos returns: will the new policy put you off?

Online clothing retailer Asos hit the news last month after altering its returns policy to prevent serial returns. But could the new policy put some shoppers off?

With the rise of Instagram influencers and social media photo sharing, the need to be wearing the most stylish, relevant outfits feels like it’s never been greater.

With that in mind, it looks like Asos had noticed what it calls ‘unusual patterns’ from some customers – in other words large amounts of orders being sent back on a regular basis by the same person for a refund.

Could some be wearing an outfit once and returning it? Or could they be taking a quick photo of the new clothes, posting it on Instagram then sending it all back?

Finding the right size

I can understand why the policy has changed, but it does leave me with a couple of questions, as well as some doubts around my own shopping.

Being 5ft 3″ tall, I often find that clothes are either too long or just don’t fit properly.

The quickest way for me to get around my dilemma is to order two or three different sizes. When the clothes arrive I can then try everything on and send back the ones that didn’t fit.

I feel like there’s a huge amount of disparity when it comes to different brands’ sizing – should retailers expect high returns rates as a result of that?

While Asos has made it clear that it’s unlikely I would be affected, it has made me think twice about my shopping habits – should I ‘over-order’ different sizes? I wonder if this change could put some innocent shoppers off finding the right size.

And finally, Asos offers ‘Klarna‘ – a payment system that means you can place an order, try the items on, then return them, only paying for the ones you keep. Could that system encourage the behaviour it’s attempting to stamp out?

Our online shopping advice

We had a few questions for Asos about the new returns policy, based largely around clarification of the new policy’s finer points.

Asos told us that some accounts had indeed already been deactivated, but the number of those affected (and likely to be affected) is tiny – a fraction of 1% of its customer base. For our other queries, it directed us to its full policy page.

When you buy goods online you have rights to return them under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which stand in addition to the retailer’s online returns policy.

This is because your decision may be based on a brief description, a photograph or sizing guidelines – so what you end up receiving isn’t always quite what you’d expected.

Because of this, you have the right to change your mind, cancel your order and return it to the retailer for a refund.

You can cancel at any time from the moment you place your online order, and up to 14 days from the day you receive your goods.

You need to notify the retailer within this time period – by email, for example – and you then have a further 14 days from the date you notified the retailer to actually return the goods.

How do you feel about the new returns policy? Might changes like this make you think twice about your online orders?


An on-line retailer must comply with their legal obligations regarding returns. If they feel their service is being abused then presumably they are quite in order to refuse to accept orders from that customer.

It is common practice to order a range of sizes; I do it with shoes and trousers (occasionally) and keep the one(s) I’m happy with. I wonder about this method of trading as the high volume of return carriage costs must be significant.

It is very understandable action of ASOS. Assuming it costs £5 per item (a conservative estimate) for transport and reprocessing of the refunded items then it costs £45 when someone returns 9 out of 10 items which eats seriously into the profits of that 1 item bought. ASOS does simply not make any profits on serial returners.

Frenske, I agree with what you say, but surely that is a reality that all online clothing stores must accept and deal with?

socks says:
14 May 2019

While it’s understandable they want to lower costs, if I walk into any good clothes store, they’ll have a changing room where we can try things on.

I also have a lot of shirts which are supposed to be the same size, but they’re all slightly different size and fit to each other. Some are from the same brand too.

I was once told the difference in sizes can come from how the fabric is cut. If a large metal die is used to cut a number layers of fabric at a time then the top layers will be slightly bigger. There will also be differences between machinists and how big a hem they sew.

Am I missing something as their new policy seems more favourable than their old policy?

I’d say it is too 🙂 The questions we had though were around ‘how much is too much?’ – could some innocent shoppers be put off ordering extra items to try on/send back for fear of having their accounts deactivated?

Maybe, but there are a lot of clothing companies out there……..

There are indeed. I wonder how much of a gamble it is for ASOS. The levels of people taking advantage must be high enough for them to risk putting innocent shoppers off. They will have extended the returns period to encourage those people who might have been put off.

We are talking about a very small number of customers and from the small number there is also small number that is actually innocent. Note that ASOS have to take back the returns and refund the money, only your account will be deactivated.

I’ve noticed a returns policy by some women’s online clothing retailers, which is bad faith but legal. My girlfriend has ordered clothes from Boohoo.com and Missguided.co.uk. When she has returned the whole delivery in full after trying the clothes on, both retailers failed to refund the original delivery charge, contrary to Regulation 34(2) of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. This is because, using the prominent returns procedures on the retailers’ web sites does not cancel the contract. In order to receive a refund of the original delivery charge, one additionally has to cancel the contract pursuant to Regulation 29 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which involves a separate procedure such as e-mailing a special e-mail address or even printing a PDF form, filling it in and sending it back by post. Most consumers don’t understand the difference between the standard returns procedure and cancelling the contract.

Most online retailers combine use of their returns procedure and cancelling the contract into one action, yet the above two retailers deliberately separate them into two actions in order to cause customer confusion with the result that most customers returning goods don’t cancel the contract and consequently don’t receive a refund of the original delivery charge.

Hi NFH, I have passed this to a few people here who will be very interested in this. I am sure many people get caught out by this.