Here is why returning clothes in the aftermath of the unrest can be tricky

30 July 2021 - 11:00
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
Woolworths is allowing returns and exchanges without slips, except in KZN. File photo.
Image: Bruce Gorton Woolworths is allowing returns and exchanges without slips, except in KZN. File photo.

Due to the unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, several stores in both provinces are not exchanging items for the “right size” or issuing refunds without an original slip.

Earlier this month waves of unrest in both provinces saw several malls looted and businesses damaged.

Speaking to TimesLIVE, the Mr Price Group said no exchanges or issuing of refunds will be made without purchase slips in all their stores in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

“Due to the theft and looting that has taken place in our country, no items will be exchanged or refunded without an original till slip or e-docket as proof of purchase,” said the group.

“We hope that in light of the circumstances our customers will understand this is necessary.”

The Foschini Group said no changes would be made in their returns policy which requires customers to present original slips.

The group’s retail brands include @home, @homelivingspace, American Swiss, Charles and Keith, Collette, Donna, DueSouth, Exact, Fabiani, Foschini, G-Star, Hi, Markham, Sportscene, Sterns, The FIX and Totalsports.

“We will continue with our standard returns policy which requires customers to present an original slip,” the group told TimesLIVE.

“This returns policy has always been in place and we are not changing it for KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng stores. In addition, the same refund policy will apply that was in practice prior to the social unrest.”

Woolworths said it was allowing returns and exchanges without original slips, except in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Unfortunately we are unable to accept refunds and exchanges without proof of purchase in KwaZulu-Natal,” said Woolworths spokesperson Kirsten Hewett.

She said the company would honour all refunds and exchanges only if customers in KZN provide some kind of proof of purchase.

“We will gladly honour all refunds and exchanges if our customers have proof of purchase, including a till slip, delivery note with holographic sticker or tax invoice. This applies to our KwaZulu-Natal stores only. We would like to thank our customers for their understanding on this issue,” said Hewett.

One consumer who spoke to TimesLIVE said they had to produce an original slip when attempting to return an item of clothing at Ackermans in Gauteng.

Pepkor, which owns Pep stores, Ackermans, Bradlows, Best & Less, Dunns and Shoe City, among other stores, said the brands have not amended their returns or refunds policies in light of the recent unrest and looting.

“A valid receipt or proof of purchase must be provided by the customer to qualify for a return or refund via cash, credit or gift voucher, depending on the brand’s policy.

“Customers can also visit stores which remain open and operational. They do not need to return items to the store in which the item was purchased,” Pepkor said. 

According to the Consumer Protection Act, customers have the right to return unsafe or defective (faulty) items and receive refunds.

If a consumer is trying to return a purchase, the product must be returned with a receipt, in the original packaging and with the tags attached to it.

In the case of a faulty product, the retailer may not repair the product if the customer  requested a refund or exchange.