I live outside of the UK, not a UK citizen or resident (I am also not a resident of the European Union), but I bought several items in the online store of a large UK department store chain. The transaction price made me eligible for free shipping.

Many of the items arrived damaged, I took photos and got a refund for the items' value, not for the shipping, as shipping was free.

On its web site, the store declares that damaged items of orders placed by customers located outside of the UK will not be replaced, only refunded.

(Hence if I want a replacement, I will have to place a new order for the damaged items).

However, in the time interval between the time when I placed the original order, and the time when the damaged items were delivered, the online store bumped up the prices of the damaged items.

Also, since now I have less items to order, I will not be eligible for free shipping (unless I choose to add some items which are not really necessary to me, just to reach the threshold required for free shipping).

I wrote to their customer service about these two problems. However their response was that they do not send replacements to customers who are outside of the UK, and I will have to place a new order, with the new prices, as well as pay the shipping fee.

Is this legal according to the UK law, even when I am not a UK citizen?

  • What do you mean by "this"? Providing a refund rather than replacement? Raising prices? Or providing free shipping only over a certain value? Apr 24, 2019 at 12:18

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's absolutely legal.

It turns out that UK retailers offer replacement out of their own politeness and are not required to do so by law. If they gave you refund then that's all they need to do.

  • 2
    UK retailers must offer a full refund if an item is faulty, not as described or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to - they aren't obliged to replace the item. If the customer 'accepts' the item but later discovers a fault, the retailer may have to offer to repair or replace it, and may choose to refund it. In this particular case, it seems the retailer wants to do what it is obliged by law to do.
    – Lag
    Apr 24, 2019 at 16:35
  • @Lag Oh. It's that in UK they always offer replacement before refund and that's why people (including myself) might think it's obligation by law. Thanks for the information, I'll adjust my answer.
    – Smart455
    Apr 24, 2019 at 16:41
  • 1
    it does depend on the circumstances. This gov.uk page is helpful: gov.uk/accepting-returns-and-giving-refunds
    – Lag
    Apr 25, 2019 at 7:20
  • 2
    It's not exactly politeness, but a replacement is the cheapest course of action. A refund would have a cash cost to the merchant of the retail amount paid, whereas a replacement would cost the wholesale value of the defective good.
    – user71659
    Apr 25, 2019 at 20:28
  • wholesale value + whatever it costs the retailer to store and handle the good.
    – bdsl
    Jan 4, 2023 at 13:14

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