Online returns: it doesn’t have to be a black hole

Buying things online can be a risk.  What if you change your mind?  Or the product doesn’t quite match your expectations?  Your heart sinks.  There are so many obstacles standing in the way of you getting your money back, or getting the product you really want!  You have to trek to the post office, stand in a long queue, and then you have the reputation of the Royal Mail to contend with – is the package actually going to get back to the right place?

So often, when you buy a product online and you have to return it, you get little, if any feedback throughout the returns process.  You constantly have to check your bank account to see if the refund has been made, or you have to contact the seller to see if they have received the item you have sent to them.  This simply adds to your levels of frustration with the company (especially if you’re returning an item which is faulty, or not what you expected from their description in the first place).

I recently had to return some spare parts for my Hoover vacuum cleaner.  Whilst not flawless, I had a comparably good experience on  In-between buying the parts and receiving them, I actually decided to purchase an entirely new vacuum cleaner (it’s a long story, but essentially the aforementioned Hoover emitted a distinct burning smell accompanied by sparks whenever it was first turned on).

On the confirmation email that I received from when I ordered the parts, I noticed that you had 14 days to return items and there was a handy link to the ‘Refunds and Returns guide’.  I followed this link, and arrived on a Hoover branded page with information all about returns.  I discovered that, in order to return an item, you need a ‘returns authorisation’.

I didn’t have a this ‘returns authorisation’, so I phoned the customer service number given on this page, explained my situation to the friendly man on the other end of the phone and was given a ‘returns authorisation’ number along with instructions of where to post the items.  The process so far had been hassle free, and I was a happy customer. didn’t stop there though.  I logged into my email account a few minutes after the call, and there was an email confirming our conversation including the vital ‘returns number’ and details of where to send the package.  I felt reassured that they were now expecting my return package, and that I had all the information I needed to complete the return.

A couple of days later, I received another email from confirming that they had received the returned parts, and on the same day I received another email saying that they had refunded the transaction.

This may seem like a lot of emails, but they were impeccably timed.  Receiving feedback throughout the returns process reassured me that my refund was being handled quickly and efficiently, which in turn gave me confidence in

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