Folksy Ltd

Distance selling, returns exclusions

(govhornek) #1

Hi, first post here.
How are the distance selling rules in respect of returns applied to hand made items made to order? I have photographs of similar products and sometimes sketches of options but the customer chooses the features and then I make what they want. Also some of my stuff is heavy and some of the parcels will be affected by the weird size breaks so I can’t afford to be refunding postage at those sort of rates just because someone changes their mind. There are too many variations to keep in stock and I don’t have storage space. Thank you.

(Sasha Garrett) #2

My understand is that UK distance selling rules state that tailor made or personalised items cannot be returned for a refund (tailor made is where it has been made to their specific size requirements, personalised is where it features dates/ names or other details which are specific to the customer). Items that are made to order (ie a standard item that is made when the order comes in) are not covered by this so are returnable and you would have to refund the original postage but not the cost of returning the item. From what you’ve described I think your items would come under ‘made to order’ rather than ‘personalised’ but without examples of your work it is a bit hard to decide.
Hope that helps

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(Christine Shephard) #3

If it’s truly ‘bespoke’ or personalised in such a way that it would not be possible to sell it to anyone else (or highly unlikely), then you don’t have to accept returns unless you choose to. Examples would be a non-standard size dress or a portrait of someone.

If it’s just made-to-order with a choice of features/variations (e.g. colour), that wouldn’t be exempt and you would be obliged to offer a refund (including outward postage) if the customer wants to cancel within 14 days of receiving it.

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(govhornek) #4

Hi, Thank you for your replies. (I’m keeping them under wraps til released).
That does seem unfair on me having to pay the postage and then I’ve got that hanging about going rusty in the workshop til someone else wants exactly the same option. Unless I go to a craft fair with such stuff. I have potentially 31680 variations of one item. I’m just making the ordering process easier by making it selectable rather than them having to draw a bespoke version. What if every item gets the buyers initials and a serial number stamped underneath? People can stamp initials on a cufflink and it’s suddenly bespoke.

(Sasha Garrett) #5

If its got initials stamped in it then it counts as personalised and you wouldn’t have to accept it if the customer want to return it as you would struggle to find someone else with the same initials who wanted to buy the item.

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(Helen Smith) #6

It may seem unfair to you but you are the one running the business, making the profit* and therefore should be shouldering the risk. The customer may order something in good faith and then find it is absolutely not what they expected when it arrives, should they then be out of pocket? The main thing is to make sure that every detail of whatever-it-is is well photographed and/or properly described and then these situations are less likely to arise. In my own experience customers looking to take advantage are few and far between and I have been making custom orders for over seven years now.

*(If your level of profit does not give you any leeway in this then perhaps you should revisit your pricing)

(Christine Shephard) #7

Yes, in my experience, returns are rare, especially with custom-made items. A clear description and photos of the actual item before posting out can be a good idea, as it saves all the hassle of returning an item if it isn’t what was expected. You’d still be stuck with the made-to-order item, but at least you won’t be out of pocket on the postage.

If you do decide to add initials, make it very clear at the ordering stage that it is non-returnable once the initials have been added.

(govhornek) #8

Thank you but I don’t see it like that. I wouldn’t have the cheek to order something to special requirements without making a proper decision beforehand. I don’t inconvenience them at their place of work and cause them financial loss. It’s not like I’m posting teabags. The postage is a nightmare already.

(Sasha Garrett) #9

Slightly off topic - the way the folksy listing system works is going to make it difficult to list all those variations under one item, there aren’t any drop down menus to allow people to select eg colour/ finish or size and you can’t do pricing variations within a listing. So if you are selling eg bookcases you would need to have separate listings for eg slim 3 shelf at £A, wide 3 shelf at £B, slim 4 shelf at £C, wide 4 shelf at £D etc and ideally photos of each type so that people can see what they look like. If people have seen good photos of the product so that they know what they are getting then returns are going to be few and far between.
If the postage is that bad maybe your item is not suitable for online selling?

(govhornek) #10

Hi thanks. I thought Folksy was here to cater for the small lone worker craftsperson and to harness what was beautiful about the whole ethos. Basically if it’s just sizes then it’s better to have one big decent photo at a better quality than loads of thumbnails that show no detail whatsoever. I’m going to look rather stupid having a mile long list of items that look the same. Now this one’s 1cm longer. And this one over here is 2cm longer. I just can’t see it working like that. I’ll have to come up with another way of doing it. Can’t they place an order then email the bespoke requirements? Or even send a letter. I don’t know.

(Helen Smith) #11

You may not see it like that but the law does.

(SaskiaN) #12

If the total cost is the same you could have the options listed in your description and then they could message you with their order with what options they want. If the specific combination of options change the pricing it’s trickier - if you had several different total prices then you could have a listing for each price with the options for that price. But if it’s more complicated than that I’m not sure . . .

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(Christine Shephard) #13

You could offer a ‘basic’ standard item at a certain price, then if buyers want to change any of the details, measurements etc, you can liaise with them by email/phone and set up a custom-listing for them with specific details about their order and an agreed price.

Many sellers on here offer custom work, it just means that you have to have a clear understanding between you and the customer before you start work about exactly what they will be getting.

If you list a few items, with standard features, that will enable them to see your work - it can still be made-to-order if you don’t want to carry a lot of stock.

The key is to communicate with your buyer before making, then there’ll be less chance of them being unhappy with it later.

Actually, if the customisation is really complex and specific to the buyer, you could probably get away with not offering returns (unless the item is faulty or not as agreed), as it’s unlikely it will ‘fit’ another buyer’s needs. It’s a bit of a grey area, the law is open to interpretation!

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(Eileens Craft Studio) #14

We don’t have thumbnail photo’s all 5 photo’s are large. The ones you see as small are to be clicked on so that they are then full size.

For example go to any sellers shop and click on their second, third, fourth or fifth photo and see what I mean.

For now just use the same photo for the different sizes then when you make one a different size take a photo of that one and then replace it with your new photo.

We don’t have an option for different prices. But you can put at that the top of your listing for Custom order in another size please use Contact designer icon for details. Then you sort it all out via email so you both have a written record I would not do it over the telephone unless you sumerize the conversation with an email which is double the work. Then once you have it all agreed to a listing for that customer with a special title eg I use Custom Item for Customer… I don’t use their full name just a name they agree can go on the listing. Then you email the customer the link to the listing so they can pay.

I hope that helps and all the best

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(Sasha Garrett) #15

This site doesn’t have a directory of makers that people can search through so they are normally searching the site with a specific item in mind and then if they find something that is almost right they might contact the maker. Each listing has 15 tags with it and it is these tags along with the description that the search algorithm uses to prioritise the search results so if you have different listings for a few standard sizes you can have size specific search terms with each listing (eg slimline, slim, skinny for one listing or large, oversize, statement for another) which would increase your chances of being found in the search. You can then put in the listing words to the effect of ‘not quite the right size/ finish? Drop me a message as I’m happy to make this up to your exact size/ finish requirements’. You can then cost up for what they want (including figuring out how much the postage is going to be) and generate a custom listing for them. As others have said they key is plenty of communication before you start making it and having everything in writing/ email as proof just incase they come back and say ‘this isn’t what we agreed’.

(govhornek) #16

Oh thank you for your proactive input. I knew there had to be a way.

(govhornek) #17

Thank you for the rays of sunshine! The trouble is that unlike , say, a dress there is no wide band of regular suitability that would be viewed as a standard size range. Each combination of features is as likely/unlikely as the rest. But excellent, I know there’s a way now.
Yes it was the returns bit also that got me down. I really need to talk directly with the person who will be making that judgement at the end of the day and clear this up in advance so my case is crystal clear. So I suppose that’s trading standards or some such body. Onwards and upwards!

(govhornek) #18

Thanks, that’s more like it!

(govhornek) #19

That’s more like it, Thanks. Lets say for arguments sake that I’m selling a piece of string (which I certainly am not) On the end of that piece of string is a very special knot made in a very laborious irreversible manner. The piece of string has to wedge between the big toe and next toe by virtue of the end knot chosen for the primary toe end. That is held at a precise tension and is threaded up through the bedstead. From there it goes out of the window to a tree and round the garden and back in to terminate on the opposite foot in a similar way. The customer chooses the length of the piece of string to exactly match that distance. You can’t shorten or otherwise interfere with the circuit length without destroying the forces of nature harnessed. Now this is extreme as an example but I hope it serves to illustrate the need for complete exculsivity on occasion. :slight_smile: X

(Tessa Spanton) #20

OK so it’s the law but how is it that big retailers (eg Boden) don’t refund our postage costs when we return items when they aren’t suitable? They don’t have a store any more where you can go to try the things on.