According to a research of the Dutch consumer association Consumentenbond about a quarter of online shops do not refund money within thirty days when consumers return the product within the legal cooling-off period. A survey by Belgian consumer association Test-Aankoop a year and a half ago had shown similar results.
268 products at 118 online shops
“Ordering with an online shop is done very quickly. If you regret your purchase, you can return it and get a refund, but about a quarter of online shops don’t refund at all, or do it too late", says Consumentenbond. The consumer association ordered 268 products at 118 online shops and immediately returned all packages. “Over a quarter of online shops did not refund the money by itself within thirty days. Four shops did not refund our money at all.”
In The Netherlands the consumer has a seven day cooling-off period to return the product. The online shop has to refund the purchase, including shipping costs (not those of the return shipment) within 30 days.
A lot of shops however find excuses not to refund the money on time: “did not receive package”, “old address on return form”, “administration closed this week” and so forth. The organisation advises consumers not to back down and to keep pushing for their refund. “If you don’t want all the hassle, you can maybe choose to pay after delivery.”
Union of webshops “positive” about report
In the newspaper AD the Dutch union of online shops Thuiswinkel.org reacts positively to the survey: “It is a good thing Consumentenbond researched this. We regret that many online shops seem not to be taking consumers and the market seriously”, says director Wijnand Jongen. He encourages all online shops to make a full refund as quickly as possible and to not wait until the end of the legal term.
18 months ago Belgian Test-Aankoop also rang the alarm. The organisation bought products at 35 online shops and returned them immediately. Eight online shops failed the test, because of belated refunds or for not refunding at all.