Ask H&H: buying online

Q: I bought a riding hat costing £212.56 from internet firm Amira Equi. Unfortunately, it was the wrong size, so I returned it, intending to await refund before reordering a different size. I was upset to find that the firm had only refunded £185, a shortfall of more than £27.

When I questioned this, I was told that it was to cover postage and packaging and a 10% restocking charge. What appeared to be a good value internet buy turned out to be more expensive than buying from a local stockist.
SA, Glamorgan.

IT can be difficult to spot some of the terms and conditions involved in purchasing online. In this case, it looks as if the buyer was not fully aware of the company’s returns policy, which states: “Any goods which do not meet with your expectations must be returned to us within 14 days of receipt, in an unused, undamaged and unsoiled condition.

“Where applicable, the original branded packaging should be returned undamaged. In this unlikely event, replacement or full refund will be given less any external charges incurred, postage and packaging. In the case of return/exchange, no charge will be made other than for shipping and a restocking charge of 10%.”

We asked Ib Ravn-Aagaard, managing director of Amira Equi, to clarify the situation.

“Our terms and conditions are clearly stated,” he says.

“When the customer places an order on our website, they have to tick a box during the check-out to confirm that they accept our terms and conditions of trading. Without this confirmation, they cannot place the order.

“We use ParcelForce for shipping, and it is our policy only to cover costs. We try to sell our products at as low a price as we can, without upsetting the manufacturers. However, we do have to cover our costs, which include processing returns. In this customer’s case, we have only applied the returns policy as displayed on the website, and as accepted by the customer when she made the purchase.”

H&H also asked Claire Williams, executive director and secretary of the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA), for her advice.

“When purchasing online, it is always wise to read the terms and conditions applying to the sale,” she explains.

“In this case, the site states quite clearly that the restocking charge will apply. Forewarned is forearmed.

“While the internet offers a degree of convenience, when buying certain items where sizing is crucial — or where there is any uncertainty — the shopper may well benefit from the personal touch of a ‘bricks and mortar’ retailer.

“With riding hats in particular, fit can often vary from brand to brand. So, especially where a new brand or style is concerned, it is always a good idea to seek the expert advice of a retailer who has been trained to fit hats — look for retailers’ in-store BETA certificate naming the trained staff member, or ask to see the shop’s BETA-trained hat fitter,” she says.

Information

Tel: 01937 587062 www.beta-uk.org

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (7 February, ’08)

Originally published on horseandhound.co.uk