In-store clothes shopping: Your rights
07/03/2018 The general shopping experience has become less dreadful since we can shop ‘til our mouse drops instead of standing for days in store queues. However, in-store shopping remains the safer go to destination for many consumers. If you are part of the population that prefers the latter, it will useful to know what your rights are in case you find yourself in these common sticky situations in-store.
Your right to good quality clothes
When you buy items of clothing, it is reasonable for you to expect them to be of good quality and durable, it is your right.
According to the Consumer Protection Act, if you happen to purchase goods that don't meet those expectations, you can return them to the store within six months for a full refund or replacement without penalty.
Buying clothing is however distinctly different from buying appliances or furniture for instance. It is unlikely that you would buy torn or dirty clothing for example and only notice it when you get home. When you shop, check that the item you're buying is in good shape and that all buttons are intact and the zips work properly.
Do I have to accept the clothes on the mannequin?
Not at all. If you can't find the item you want on the store floor, you can't be forced to accept clothes on display.
It's rare but some stores may allow you to buy items on display at a reduced price but this is only if you expressly ask to do so. Doing this may however, impact on your right of return because you would be agreeing to buy the item as it is.
The facilities at the store are poor
Store facilities are a common issue - from dirty or unsecure fitting rooms to broken or faulty elevators. Many consumers may not know this, but you can actually complain to the store or it's relevant branch customer services office if their facilities are not of an acceptable standard. Sometimes, you may even find that the store manager is unaware of the lacking facilities. Finally, make sure you take photos to support your concerns and note any persons’ names from the store that you engaged with on the issue.
I received terrible service at the store!
If a store assistant or cashier or any other employee of a store is rude to you, you can complain to the store manager. You have a right to demand quality service and this includes being treated politely and with respect.
The clothes were in the sale section but I paid the full price
A store isn't practicing fair marketing if it places products that aren't on sale in the sale section. Similarly, they can't display one price on the item only for it to reflect differently on your receipt.
It is harder to prove that an item of clothing was in the sale section if it was not visibly marked down and you only noticed the discrepancy after you had left the store. But this doesn't mean you can't return it. Most stores will go out of their way to assist and refund you and it may even be the case that the mistake is an often occurrence.
If you buy an item that is visibly marked down, i.e. the price is the only one on the price tag, you are entitled to pay that price. If you notice two different prices, the lower one will apply. However, some unscrupulous individuals may alter and remove prices from clothing, so it may be helpful to seek clarity from a store assistant.
Clothes on sale usually have a different tag or sticker, if you find an item in the sale section without one, ask for assistance just to be sure.
Of all in-store issues, returns have proven to be one of the most unpleasant.
There are two basic types of returns, CPA returns and “change of mind” returns.
An item returned under the CPA is one that is of inferior quality or isn’t reasonably durable. For instance, if you buy a pair of heels and they break off just as you walk out the door in them for the first time, they would constitute a CPA return. You can return the item within six months to the store for your choice of either a refund, replacement or repair.
It would be a different case altogether if you had worn them for some months and left them out in the sun or rain. That is considered to be wear and tear through normal use.
Your new jeans being a size smaller or you changing your mind about the shirt you bought a week ago would form part of change of mind returns. This simply means that there is nothing wrong with actual item in itself. These type of returns are judged in accordance with the store’s returns policy.
It is important to note that the store won’t in that case be obligated to accept your return. It is however common practice for stores to accept returns as long as you have your receipt and you made the purchase within the last 30 to 60 days. The returns period differs from store to store.
Also note that the manner of refund, should you opt to be refunded, is entirely up to the store. Usually, you will be offered a voucher for future use at the same store.
Whatever you do, always keep your receipt and be familiar with the store’s returns policy so you make informed decisions.
If you had an issue or unpleasant experience shopping in-store, you can use Resolver to lodge a formal complaint.
Remember, smart shopping will always save you in the end - check clothes thoroughly, ask about a store’s returns policy and understand sale offers before you pay. The last thing you want is to be stuck with an item of clothing you don’t actually want because well... you thought you could just return it!