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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Waitrose store returns: new policy

Waitrose altered its returns policy on 20 March 2017. In 'change of mind' situations and to qualify for a refund, the item must be back within 35 days but with "proof of purchase and in its original packaging". There are exceptions which include chilled and frozen products, unsealed earrings and fireworks.  I am told that the proof will most commonly take the form of a till receipt but that other documents such as a credit card statement "may" be acceptable. Its 'refund and replace' quality commitment where something was wrong with the product remains. 35 days again but only a single refund with no proof of purchase. 

All reasonable enough though as at last weekend not all staff had got the hang of how things work. Upon the return of a packet of fresh mint in its original Waitrose plastic bag which unfortunately had turned black before time - the mint, not the bag - I was informed that there could be no refund without a receipt (which I must have accidentally dropped down a drain) although a gift card for the price was offered. Nonsense.

Let's get things straight. 
  • The Waitrose returns policy does not affect your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 or any other law. That is what is meant by the statement in the returns notice displayed on Waitrose customer services counters that 'Your statutory rights are not affected." So, if you would be better off relying on your statutory rights instead of a returns policy then you can do so and that could mean having a refund for a sub-standard purchase,compensation for the cost of returning to the store and compensation for any other resulting losses (distraught as the dinner party was ruined  because you had to throw away six large jars of caviar - but not from Waitrose).
  • A return because the product is below legal standard has nothing to do with a 'change of mind'.
  • If substandard and you have no receipt or proof of purchase, you do not lose your legal rights. Your word that you purchased and from where and when can be enough, especially if it is obvious as in the case of the black mint that the item came from Waitrose and the packaging has a 'use by' date on it if perishable.
  • The Waitrose former returns policy should apply to pre-20 March 2017 purchases.

The Waitrose manager at the weekend promised to give some more guidance to staff.

The myWaitrose tea and coffee offer change - you must make a purchase before you qualify for a free cup but there is no minimum spend - does not take effect until next Monday so get drinking.