Shoppers have criticized online fashion firm Boohoo after it scrapped its free returns policy and introduced a £1.99 charge in its place.
Customers will now have that amount deducted from their refund when they return unwanted goods.
The move was first reported by the Retail Week website after the fast fashion retailer added the policy change to its website in small print.
Boohoo – which also owns brands including Debenhams.com, Dorothy Perkins and PrettyLittleThing – says it has introduced the returns fee to tackle shipping costs going up.
A Boohoo Group spokesperson said: “As the cost of shipping has increased, we’ve had to look at where we can adapt without compromising what our customers love most.
“This has meant that we will be applying a charge of £1.99 to returns so that we can continue to offer great prices and products and do this in a more sustainable way.”
The new policy, which came into effect on 4 July, means a fee will be charged for each delivery, not each item.
If returns from the same order are made over several occasions, shoppers will be charged each time.
However some shoppers have expressed on social media their dissatisfaction with the returns charge, claiming the clothes are poor quality, items look different on the website and finding a size that fits is difficult.
One person tweeted: “With such unpredictable sizing, Boohoo have the cheek to give a return cost LOL”, while another said: “You have to pay for boohoo returns now???? the fun is acc over.”
A third shopper wrote: “Boohoo charging for returns?!?! Goodbye babes,” as a fourth fumed: “BooHoo you will never see a penny from (me) again. About 1.99 to return items this is how you will end up in administration like your friends over at misguided.”
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A Boohoo Group spokesperson responded to the complaints saying: “Customer satisfaction is a priority for the Boohoo Group and we are constantly working to ensure the consumer has a positive shopping experience…”
The updated policy also means shoppers may be paying more to return an item compared to how much it cost to buy the item, with products less than £1.99 available to buy on their website.
Boohoo returns remain free for premier customers who get unlimited free next day delivery for one year for £12.99.
It comes as Next, Uniqlo and Zara already charge for online orders.
Other retailers are likely to follow in charging for returns, according to analysts, as customers are more likely to return items bought online than in store.
For fashion retailers, returns can be costly. Last month, Asos said its “significant increase” in returns is contributing to its latest profit warning.
Online shopping boomed during the COVID pandemic which has meant an increase in the number of unwanted items being returned.