Returns

This section details the way in which Returns are managed by fulfilmentcrowd

Introduction

Returns management or reverse logistics is a core part of the fulfilmentcrowd proposition and an essential service for online retailers who are required by law to accept returns. It is therefore a pre-requisite that clients declare a returns policy on their website; if you don’t have a policy or are in the process of drafting one, please use the template document below.

There are a number of reasons why customers return their goods, varying from a mistaken purchase to dissatisfaction with the quality, size or colour. When a product is returned, it is inspected by a member of our specialist team within 16 working hours of receipt, who will assess whether the product is still new and saleable, re-workable or damaged beyond repair.

We operate a standard workflow and strive to make the process as simple as possible. Please read this guide which explains how we handle your returned goods and the tasks that you must complete to ensure customer requests are managed in a timely manner.

Your Returns Policy

This is a very important point of reference and determines the compatibility of your offer with our standard service, which is detailed within this guide. Our recommended terms are outlined as follows:

Only products purchased directly from our online store can be returned using the procedure described below. If you purchased your products at a retail store or from another website these products must be returned to the original store or site which they were purchased from.

  • Incorrect Item? All shortages, damages or discrepancies in your shipment must be reported within 14 days of receipt. We will then raise an investigation and respond as necessary.

  • Unsuitable Item? You may return items to us, at any time within 28 days of receipt for a refund (excluding any delivery charges incurred) if the item is “as new”. We class “as new” condition as unused and packaged as dispatched.

  • Faulty Item? If you believe your item is faulty, please contact us within 28 days of purchase detailing your original order number and details of the problem. We will assess the issue immediately and, where necessary, arrange for repatriation of the goods for inspection. If the item subsequently deemed faulty due to a manufacturing issue, we will process a refund within 7 days of receipt.

  • Shipping Costs: You are liable for the costs of returning an item except in cases when we have sent incorrect goods in error or if an item returned for inspection is deemed faulty. We recommend that you return goods using a tracked and signed service such as Royal Mail Recorded (covers you up to £30) or Special Delivery (covers you up to £500). Always retain proof of postage as you may be asked for this prior to processing your return. If no proof of postage or delivery (to our centre) is provided upon request, we shall have no liability in respect of goods and shipping costs. We cannot accept responsibility for goods until a member of our staff has signed for receipt. Once we have inspected the goods and subject to the foregoing, we will process a refund. To return your items, please forward to the following address, quoting your name, address and original order number (detailed on the dispatch note):

  • Return Address - Please insert the Address of the fulfilmentcrowd facility to which your goods have been assigned, as per fulfilmentcrowd Contacts.

  • Exchanges: We are unable to provide an exchange service. Therefore, if you would like to order an alternative item:

    • Return the unsuitable items for a full refund using the returns form that came in your parcel and the instructions above

    • Place a new order on our website for the alternative item you require.

  • Refunds: Refunds are processed within 7 days of receipt of returned items, after they have been fully inspected by our Returns team and subject to the aforementioned terms.

  • Legal: This Returns policy is in addition to, and exceeds, your Statutory Rights. Customers' statutory rights are not affected by any of these terms of trading. In the event of any dispute, English law shall apply.

Returning an Item

Should you offer your customer a free return or collection service, we recommend using a tracked service as a minimum and are able to provide the following options:

  1. Royal Mail Tracked Returns – this service is available online and in Post Offices across the UK. Customers would create and apply their own label or download a QR code which is then scanned at the counter and labelled on their behalf. Charges only apply once the parcel has entered Royal Mail’s network (i.e. there is no charge for an unused label) and the service level is 48 hours. Please note that there is no proof of delivery or ‘POD’ on this service and customers should retain receipt of postage.

  2. DPD Tracked Returns – a fully tracked and signed-for service that is available in the UK and EU. Labels can be dispatched with goods or printed online (self service). The customer can then either schedule a convenient pickup or deposit at one of DPDs 3,000 drop-off points across the continent.

  3. Courier Collection – this option is only available to clients subscribing to our Customer Care Service. The customer would contact us on a dedicated number or email address; we would then arrange for a label to be sent and carrier to collect. For peace of mind, parcels returned to our centre would be subject to a proof of delivery.

Please note that fulfilmentcrowd can only take liability for goods once they have been delivered to our centre and signed for by authorised personnel.

Initiating a Return

To process goods, our operatives need to positively identify the parcel/goods, customer and originating transaction (invoice) on the fulfilmentcrowd platform. Therefore, we ask that you follow any of the following notification options:

Pre-printed returns form – this can be included in the parcel as part of the dispatch process. The customer would need to complete and include this with the returned goods. As a minimum, the following information needs to be provided:

  • Customer name and address

  • Original order reference

  • Product(s) returned

  • Reason – per line, select from the following options:

    • Item Damaged

    • Customer Ordered Wrong Product

    • Item Not Received

    • Arrived too late

    • Not Delivered (RTS)

    • Quality not as expected

    • No Longer Required

    • Too Big

    • Too Small

    • Wrong Product Dispatched

Printed returns form – we can print a part-complete returns form (A4 greyscale) at dispatch and include this with the goods. The following entry fields would need to be completed by the customer:

  • Product(s) returned – tick box

  • Reason – as above, per line

Royal Mail Tracked Returns label – on your behalf, we can setup a branded page within the Royal Mail website which will enable your customer to complete a form and produce a shipping label. Please note that the item must weigh less than 20kg and be smaller than 61cm (L) x 46cm (W) x 46cm (D). The required entry fields would be:

  • Original order reference

  • Customer number (not mandatory)

  • Reason – per return

  • Customer name, address and email

Our Service Advisors are on hand to discuss options and advise the most appropriate arrangements for you and your customers.

Unrestricted Authority

Key requirements of the returns process are speed and authority. The latter is required to ensure our specialist operatives are empowered to inspect and make decisions on the destiny of returned goods handled on your behalf. This means that fulfilmentcrowd can implement any stock remedies unilaterally, without notice.

Unless otherwise specified in writing, fulfilmentcrowd shall manage services on your behalf under the assumption of Unrestricted Authority.

Receipt at Centre and Inspection

Returned goods are delivered to our centre by the nominated carrier. Upon receipt, the parcels will be opened and, subject to the foregoing, a returns transaction will be created on our platform within 4 working hours and an auto-email will be sent to your customer confirming this. We then have up to 24 working hours to inspect the goods and make a remedial decision:

  1. Putaway for resale – the packaging and contents are in pristine condition as originally supplied to the customer. In this case, the items are laid off to our Goods In team for processing to a location.

  2. Works order – items that are not fit for resale and need to be re-packed and/or labelled will be subject to a separate works order task. Such items are consolidated on a weekly basis and the works order quoted for your authorisation. Once scheduled, the works order will be completed and goods presented for putaway to location within a maximum of 40 working hours.

  3. Quarantine – items requiring further investigation or pending supervisory decision may be quarantined for a maximum of 7 days, during which we may contact you to counsel an opinion. Should we need to extend the quarantine period, storage charges will apply at the standard rate of £10.00 per cubic metre (or part), per week.

  4. Return to Supplier – if the items are assessed to have manufacturing faults, they will be set aside in Quarantine for shipment to your nominated supplier within 7 days. Carriage will be charged at the prevailing rate.

  5. Disposal – if the items are unsuitable or unsafe for resale, rework or return to supplier, they will be immediately disposed of and any applicable costs for standard or specialist services (e.g. WEEE) will be re-charged to you.

Goods that cannot be identified or linked to your account will be immediately quarantined, pending further investigation. In this case, we have 40 working hours to complete the investigation at the end of which, we reserve the right to exercise any of the remedies listed above.

Exchanges and Substitutions

Please note that we do not provide exchanges and substitutions as part of our standard returns process and charges. Should you require this service, please raise a Support Ticket and a Service Advisor will contact you to advise options and any additional costs that may apply.

Refunds

Once we have processed the stock, a draft refund transaction will be created on the fulfilmentcrowd platform. You will need to monitor this stage by using any of the following options:

  1. Workflow enquiry – lists all draft refunds and you may drill into the transaction detail as necessary.

  2. Draft Refunds report – you can run the report at any time and this lists all transactions requiring your attention. The report can also be scheduled on a subscription – please raise a Support Ticket to implement this.

  3. Email alert – every draft refund can be configured to trigger an email detailing the transaction reference, customer details, product and amount.

The value of the draft refund will correspond to the originating sales transaction value and include any shipping charges. Upon notification, you will need to complete the following tasks:

  1. Complete the refund – this will need to be managed within the relevant ecommerce or payment processing platform.

  2. Process notification – once a refund has been completed, the draft transaction will need to be processed on the fulfilmentcrowd platform to ensure you can distinguish between open and closed refunds.

Using this method, you are at liberty to process a partial refund for any restocking costs incurred due to items not being returned in their original condition, beyond warranty date, damaged or missing parts or any other justifiable reason.

Non-Delivery and Carrier Claims

The vast majority of parcels dispatched by fulfilmentcrowd are sent on tracked or tracked and signed services. Within the platform, you can view the service assigned to each transaction and the consignment number that can then be used to track associated parcel(s). In the event that a customer contacts you to declare a non-delivery, we advise the following time allowances before actioning further:

  • United Kingdom 14 days

  • European Union 14 days

  • Rest of World 21 days

If, upon further investigation, the parcel is adjudged as lost, you will need to raise two separate remedial actions:

  • Customer – in the first instance, we recommend that you resolve the customer issue and you may offer two options:

    • Refund – this can be manually processed through your ecommerce or payment processing system. There is no need to create a refund transaction on the fulfilmentcrowd platform, but you may wish to do so, for completeness and reporting.

    • Replacement – you will need to manually create a new sales order on the fulfilmentcrowd platform. This will then be processed and shipped in accordance with the normal dispatch service level.

  • Carrier Claim – each provider operates different terms and this determines the limit of compensation available for loss. You will need to raise a carrier claim by contacting our Customer Service team, who will log the details and issue a reference number for tracking. We advise a maximum of 28 days for a claim to be processed and there are three possible outcomes:

    • Compensation – this will take the form of a credit note from the carrier, posted to our purchase ledger account. Our finance team log this information and will reciprocally raise a credit note on your account for the same amount.

    • Return to stock – we may receive the stock back in due course. In this case, the parcel would be marked as ‘return to sender’ and we would process items in line with the returns process detailed above, reserving the right to enact any remedy under Unrestricted Authority.

    • Declined Claim – in rare cases , the carrier may offer some proof that the parcel was handled in line with terms and conditions. In this case, the claim may be declined.