Just like with online dating, pictures on online shopping sites can be highly misleading. So before you get too trigger-happy with the Lazada and Qoo10 GSS promotions, here’s a chilling thought for you to consider: What if the item you order is actually really gross IRL?
This actually happened to me when I ordered a clock online recently. The clock arrived in literal pieces, so I had to assemble it myself, which, as you can imagine with my lack of horological knowledge, did not result in a working timepiece.
What’s worse is that the design of the clock face was actually a sticker, and it was half peeled off, revealing a previous clock design that obviously did not sell very well.
I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to cry, but thankfully I managed to return it and get a refund, so I think that pushed me towards “laugh”.
The point is, you’re bound to get a dud every now and then when you shop online. So I’ve compiled this useful summary of 10 popular e-commerce sites and their return policies.
10 popular online shopping sites & their return policies
|Online shopping site||Return policy|
Within 15 days for LazMall items only, “change of mind” allowed
Within 7 days outside of LazMall, “change of mind” not allowed
|RedMart||Within 7 days, perishables only|
|Qoo10||Depends on seller|
|Shopee||Within 15 day for Shopee Mall items only, “change of mind” allowed
Outside of Shopee Mall, encouraged to settle directly with seller to request returns
|ASOS||Within 45 days|
|Zalora||Within 30 days|
|Amazon||Within 30 days|
|Book Depository||Within 30 days, buyer to bear shipping fee|
|IKEA||Within 365 days, but have to bring to the store|
|Steam||Within 14 days, with < 2 hours of playing time|
Returns are free unless otherwise stated.
Lazada return policy – within 7 days, no “change of mind”
TBH, it’s really quite a tight policy if you’re used to how lenient Western e-commerce operators like ASOS and Amazon are. You have to return the item within 7 days of receiving it, and “change of mind” returns are not allowed.
The only exception is for LazMall items (i.e. the official store) – the window is extended to 15 days, and you can return because you changed your mind. (I seldom buy LazMall items though because they’re more expensive.)
Anyway, as long as your item is eligible for returns and you do it promptly, returning a Lazada purchase is actually pretty easy. Just go to your order history and find the item, tap the “return” button, and select a reason for returning the item.
If it’s a low value item, Lazada will just refund you the money and tell you to dispose of the item yourself. That’s the best-case scenario because it saves you a trip.
Otherwise, you will have to locate a dropoff point. The last time I returned a Lazada item, I chose a Ninjavan dropoff point, which turned out to be a nearby Phoon Huat store. (Note that not every pickup point is a dropoff point!) The person at the store took down the return tracking number provided by Lazada and that was it – no need to print out anything, yay.
RedMart – returns within 7 days, only for non-perishables
If you buy groceries on RedMart, they, too, have a return window of 7 days, but only for non-perishable items such as packaged foods. Tough luck if you want your money back on that lettuce that was dead on arrival…
The RedMart help centre doesn’t have any information on the return process, and I didn’t have a recent-enough RedMart order to try initiating a return.
But since RedMart and Lazada have now merged, I would guess that returns are initiated the same way as on Lazada – by clicking on your order history. Then I suppose you will get an instruction to arrange for pickup of the item(s).
Qoo10 – return policy depends on the seller
Hmm, now this one is tricky. Lots of people buy everything under the sun from Qoo10… so what do you do if the “workout leggings” you got turned out to be transparent pantyhose, or if the “Dyson inspired hair dryer” emits a burning smell?
By then it’s a bit too late to frantically Google “Qoo10 return policy” at this point, because Qoo10 doesn’t really have a sitewide return policy.
If you look at your order history, you may see the return button next to the item – or you may not. Let’s play spot the difference:
That’s because the return policy is decided by the seller, which is why you need to pay attention to this portion of the Qoo10 listing before you purchase it:
For items that are eligible for returns, the typical timeframe is within 7 days of receipt. Initiating a return usually leads to a chat with the seller where they advise you on the procedure. You may or may not have to show photographic proof of your disappointment in the product.
Furthermore, you may need to arrange your own delivery to the seller’s warehouse unless they have opted for Qxpress returns or decide to let you dispose of the unwanted item.
Shopee return policy – settle with seller privately
Shopee works slightly differently from the other major e-commerce stores because it has this thing called the Shopee Guarantee, which is where payment to the seller is withheld by Shopee, until you (the buyer) has received the items in good order.
As long as you have not tapped on the Order Received button (which ends Shopee Guarantee), you can request a return.
For products purchased on Shopee Mall, you can return items within 15 days if you have a change of mind, or if a wrong size is received. Take note that the item must be in new, original packaging and have all tags and labels still in tact.
If you only shop from Shopee Mall though, the number of items is relatively limited. But, you will have peace of mind that the items are authentic, since only brand owners and authorised distributors get invited to list their items there.
Outside of Shopee Mall, which means if you shop within the general Shopee Marketplace, the Shopee return policy encourages you to chat up the seller to communicate first before applying for a return. Doing a return request through Shopee is something you’d only do in the event of a dispute, and you may be required to submit photographic or even video proof to ensure that you can get refunded.
ASOS – returns within 45 days
I remember being totally mind-blown when I realised you could order the same item in two sizes on fashion site ASOS, and return the one that doesn’t fit for FREE.
It’s like trying clothes on in-store, except there’s no need to deal with way-too-warm spotlights, the 24,908 hangers other people left inside, and the shop’s horrible EDM playlist. In other words, it’s awesome.
ASOS lets you return items for free within 45 days of receiving the order, and that includes all those heavily discounted sale items you bought when you weren’t thinking straight.
Previously, it was a simple matter of printing out the return label and dropping it off at the nearest SingPost POPStation – no need to pay for postage or anything.
But they’ve recently switched providers to Aramex and Ninjavan, so you may have to find a new drop-off point. Alternatively, both providers also offer home collection, which is incredible considering you don’t have to pay a cent.
Check out their returns information page – it’s damn good. There’s even a download button for the return slip! Puts everyone else to shame.
Zalora – returns within 30 days
Like its competitor ASOS, Zalora understands the importance of hassle-free returns when it comes to buying clothes online (since you can’t try them on before you buy).
You can return your item within 30 days of receiving it, as long as it’s not one of these non-returnable products (e.g. underwear). The “can return or not” status of each item is stated on the product page, which you can check before purchasing.
In any case, most items are returnable, and you can initiate a request by filling in a form. You’ll be sent a return label and a tracking number. Paste the label on the package and drop it off at a SingPost POPstation locker or the SingPost counter (but NOT the mailbox!).
You’ll get a refund after the item reaches Zalora’s warehouse. The good thing about Zalora returns (compared to ASOS) is that it takes just a few days to reach them – whereas it can take to up to 21 days to reach ASOS.
Amazon – returns within 30 days
Amazon may be Jeff Bezos’ evil empire, but surely the e-commerce behemoth deserves a bit of credit for having a customer-centric return policy.
All you have to do is go to your order history and initiate a return within 30 days of receiving the item(s). There’s a simple video tutorial here. After that, you’ll receive an email with a return label, which you have to print out and stick on the package. Then, just sit around and wait for your refund.
There seems to be some variation on who pays for shipping costs. On the website, it says that the cost of return shipping may be deducted from your refund.
Otherwise, you bear the cost of shipping yourself, and Amazon may or may not add the shipping cost to your refund. In my experience (I mailed the item back to the US by SingPost), Amazon returned me an extra $20 or $30 to cover shipping.
Book Depository – returns within 30 days, but pay for shipping
So you got that new Haruki Murakami book from Book Depository… but hate that it’s not as good as Norwegian Wood.
Don’t tell them I told you this, but you can return your Book Depository parcel within 30 days of receiving it, by completing their online “cancellation” form under your Order History tab. (Although it’s called a cancellation form, it’s actually for processing a return.)
After you do that, you’ll have to send the parcel back to them within the next 14 days.
30 days is extremely lenient considering, well, you can complete certain books in that time frame. But please don’t treat Book Depository as your personal library. Have some class, can or not?!
In any case, you will have to bear the cost of postage back. Since books are usually quite heavy, that’s a bit of a deterrent for those hoping to abuse the system.
IKEA return policy Singapore – refund within 365 days, must bring the item to store
Beloved furniture megastore IKEA has one of the best return policies I’ve ever seen – you have an ENTIRE YEAR to mull over your purchase before deciding to return it.
This goes for items bought on the IKEA website and those bought in-store.
That said, you can’t return your sofa after your baby pooped on it, because IKEA only accepts unassembled items in their original packaging, except for mattresses, which can be returned after being used.
Although the return policy sounds generous, I think it’s quite a hassle – you need to bring the item down to the store along with the original receipt. The refund might not be worth the cost and effort of transporting the item. IKEA does have a hotline that you can call if you can’t transport it, but I suppose you will be charged a fee for collection.
I also don’t like that the item must be brand new in box. I mean, IKEA stuff is usually flat-packed and broken down into parts. How are you supposed to know if the box of unassembled screws and stuff are really the perfect dining table or not?
That said, I appreciate the policy because I recently got blackout blinds that were the wrong size, and it was easy as pie to return them. They didn’t even ask me what the reason for returning was – just asked if I wanted the refund in gift card or credited back to my card.
Steam – refunds within 14 days, if you played for < 2 hours
I’m super impressed with PC gaming website Steam – not only do they have killer sales, their refund policy is really customer-centric as well.
Instead of taking your money and not caring one jot if you liked the game you bought or not, Steam really wants you to have fun. If you didn’t enjoy the game, you can get a full refund as long as you didn’t play it for more than 2 hours. Returns are done through Steam Support.
I think it’s a really smart move for Steam to have this “money-back guarantee”, because it encourages buyers to try out new games that they would otherwise never have tried. Win-win for both game publishers and gamers.
Know of a website with a good return policy? Tell us about it in the comments.