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Image / Style / Shopping

PSA: Zara has started charging for online returns and customers are not best pleased


By Sarah Gill
17th May 2022

Unsplash

PSA: Zara has started charging for online returns and customers are not best pleased

If you haven’t already heard, high street giant Zara has updated its online returns policy to include a fee of €1.95.

Without making any major announcements, Zara has introduced a charge on returns of online purchases to the tune of €1.95. Taking the form of a deduction from the overall value of the refund, the fee applies on online orders returned via third party drop-off points. Items returned in-store, in the same region where the original purchase was made, are exempt from the additional charge.

Having stealthily updated their returns policy to include the proviso that “returns of orders placed from 05.05.2022 onwards will have a cost of 1.95 EUR, that will be deducted from the refunded amount.” The same deduction — £1.95 — is also being placed on UK customers.

The Zara Ireland website also reminds customers that if they wish to return an item, they must bring it to the nearest drop-off point within 30 days of the shipping date.

The new returns policy was likely prompted by a recent spike in the demand for online returns, led by haul culture, rapidly changing trend cycles and buying multiple sizes to see which fits best.

Putting the onus of this elevated return rate back onto the consumer, Zara isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last retailer to implement this charge. Where online returns come with logistical and financial costs, physical returns allow for a more rapid re-sale, but is it worth further alienating your customers?

Anyone who has ever shopped at Zara — whether online, via the app, or in-store — has likely fallen victim to their questionable sizing. It’s almost impossible to figure out how an item of their clothing will fit your body without trying it on first, meaning that if you can’t get to one of the eleven Irish branches, it’s all about guess work and inevitable disappointment.

Sizing hacks have circulated online that suggest the symbols on the label speak to the style fit; circles mean it runs larger, squares mean it’s true to size, and triangles mean the item runs small. While this is likely to be a viral rumour, should customers have to play these little games to figure out what’s going to fit their body type?

Naturally, the public had a lot to say on the matter.

One Twitter user voiced her concern that the policy is ableist in nature, presenting an accessibility issue for those with additional needs who cannot shop or return in-store. Another referred to the queue for physical returns as a ‘literal hell’, Tweeting that they’ll be finding another place to shop.

For many, it seems as though the new Zara returns charge will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Citing the disgusting exploitation of garment workers, overproduction, inconsistent quality, and the ‘ridiculous mess’ that is their sizing, customers are wondering why they should bother giving their money to this brand.

Of course, the reaction hasn’t been all negative. It’s said that the new policy was put in place in order to encourage customers to make more informed shopping choices, curb overconsumption and in turn, ensure fewer returns. Others have praised the fast fashion brand for reducing the carbon footprint of returns.

Can Zara implement this charge, while retaining its loyal clientele, or will it be the deciding factor for many to take their money elsewhere?