"Can I return handmade clothing that I have bought online?"
This is a question that I get asked a lot – and there is often some confusion around the right answer. So many small handmade clothing businesses state ‘no returns’ in their listings and on their website - but what happens if it doesn't fit or arrives damaged? What are your rights when you buy handmade clothing and when can you - and can’t you – expect to get your money back?
Put simply: YES! You can return most handmade clothing. However there are some exceptions so read on to find out more...
Know Your Rights!
When you buy something online it is important that you check the terms and conditions and the returns policy of the website you are buying from. It should be easy to find and simple to understand - for example you can find the Tutti Frutti Clothing policy here: https://www.tuttifrutticlothing.com/delivery-returns
There might be some variations but no matter how small they are, all online retailers need to follow the Consumer Contracts Regulations. Under these regulations you have the right to return online purchases if you change your mind for up to 14 days after you receive them. You are responsible for returning them and, unless the item is faulty, you will be required to pay the return postage. The Which Consumer Rights webpage has all the right information that will help you if you buy something that you want to return from an online shop. It is really worth reading through these so that you know what to do it you want to send something you have bought online back.
If your items are faulty the best thing to do is contact the seller and let them know as soon as possible. Be polite in your email and let them know why you are unhappy with your purchase and what you would like the seller to do – refund, repair or replace. If you need to return the item then the seller should pay for the return postage – my policy is to reimburse the postage costs when the item is received back. If you find a fault within 30 days then you will be entitled to a refund but if it is after 30 days then the seller is only required to repair or replace the item. If a replacement is not available and a repair not possible then a refund should be offered.
Something might be handmade but it shouldn't be of lesser quality and it still needs to be an acceptable standard or you can claim it is unsatisfactory, not fit for purpose or not as described. This means it shouldn't be faulty or damaged when you receive it - no missed stitching, loose buttons or open seams. It's important to think realistically about the price you paid - bargain clothing won't be of the same standard as luxury clothing but it also shouldn't be falling apart! The clothing needs to be fit for the purpose you bought is for and it should be as described. Make sure that you read product descriptions fully before you buy and ask questions if you are unsure - I am always happy to answer sizing or colour questions on anything I make and most other sewers will be too!
To read the regulations and consumer rights act in full visit: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act
It seems pretty straightforward so why is there so much confusion when it comes to buying handmade?
Customised, personalised and made just for you!
One of the joys of buying handmade clothing is that you get an item that not many other people have – or in some cases that is entirely unique to you. You can talk directly to the seller and get exactly what you want. You can have clothes made to your child’s exact measurements, t-shirts with your baby’s name embroidered on or dresses that combine your favourite fabrics in one garment. But you must be aware that buying something personal to you and your child means that it becomes custom made or personalised and therefore is exempt from the Consumer Contracts Regulations. That means that unless the item is faulty you cannot send it back if you just change your mind. If you provide your child’s measurements and the garment is made to those measurements you cannot send it back if it doesn’t fit. Similarly, if you ask for a dress to be made in several different fabrics and then decide that you don’t like how it looks you will be unable to send it back for a refund unless it is faulty.
It’s really important that you communicate with the seller during the process of measuring and deciding on fabric choices and personal details. Make sure you get proofs to check spelling – and that you approve them – if you are having names put on something and ask the dressmaker to send you photos of the fabrics together to make sure you like how they look. It is also really important that you measure your child accurately – take advice from the dressmaker on where and how to measure and perhaps even consider sending photos of you measuring so that the maker can check you are measuring correctly.
I am always happy to talk to customers via email and help them decide the best size of clothing for their child. It is part of the handmade and personal service that is so important to me.
What do I do if a sale goes wrong?
Occasionally smaller sellers just aren’t aware that they need to comply with these rules and regulations and that can make returning items and getting the refund or replacement you are entitled to a bit tricky. If you like buying online and supporting small handmade shops through Facebook and Instagram then the easiest way to pay is by using PayPal. You can set up an account easily or the seller can send you an invoice to your email address and then you can pay using your credit or debit card. When you pay using PayPal it is important to always select ‘Goods and Services’ when you pay – this will ensure that if you are unhappy with the purchase and the seller is not working with you to resolve it, you can ask PayPal to step in and help. It's best to read the small print and ask questions before you buy but if something does go wrong then PayPal give a window of 180 days for your to contact them - so if your purchase doesn't turn up, or is not what you expected you can contact them and they will work with you to resolve it. You should always contact the seller in the first instance and hopefully they will work with you before you need to turn to PayPal. You should also be aware that PayPal does not support claims that are for custom made and personalised items unless you claim the item does not turn up.
I know that it can be so frustrating when you order clothing online and it doesn't fit, or look like you hoped or just isn't what you were looking for. It's why I decided that when I started selling I would make to order rather than offer a made to measure service. This means you select a size from the drop down menu rather than providing me with your child's measurements. When you look for handmade clothing ask if it is made to order or made to measure. Clothing that is not a custom made item is always eligible to be returned. I am happy to work with you by email to find your child's measurements and work out which size from my range will suit them best. This way you get the fit that is best for your child - however if when you receive it, it isn't quite right just get in touch and it can be easily sorted. There is nothing worse than spending money on clothing that isn't quite right - and my aim is for you to love your handmade clothing and not to give up buying them because they are not quite right for you!
I hope that this post has given you the confidence to buy handmade clothing from small online shops and as always, if you have any questions or comments please do leave them below!