J Crew tried to charge me £41 to return part of my online order

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In March I bought some clothes from the website of the US clothing brand J Crew, spending £260 on an order with free delivery. I returned four tops because I was disappointed with the quality of the fabric, and I expected a refund of £141.

However, today I received an email that said I was being charged $50 (£41) for the return, which is essentially the cost of one top. This was not made clear to me at any point during checkout or I would not have gone ahead with the purchase.

It is my understanding that the $50 is a flat fee, so you could be in a position of returning an item and getting nothing back. I guess J Crew deoesn’t want any return customers in the whole of Europe?

AW, London

When you took this up with J Crew you were directed to eShopWorld (ESW), the Dublin-based company handling web orders for the US brand, which closed its UK shops in 2020.

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Details of the charges for customers in different countries can be found on the J Crew website. You felt this cost was not made clear during the order process. Happily for you, when you challenged ESW it offered to reimburse you and has done so.

Charging for returns is a grey area and more companies are doing it as a greater proportion of their sales move online. Zara has just started charging online shoppers £1.95 although returns to a store are free. The J Crew fee is much higher.

ESW said it could not discuss individual cases and would contact you directly.

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However, it said: “In accordance with the EU and UK consumer regulations, consumers are informed prior to purchase that they will be liable to pay the cost of returning the goods and a full list of costs is provided to consumers. Consumers are liable for the returns postage if the goods are returned at any stage, in accordance with the applicable consumer regulations.”

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