Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How to return defective art materials and get a refund

From time to time, artists need to return art materials and get a refund because they have found the art media and/or supports and/or equipment to be defective. It may not achieve the quality advertised or perform as it has in the past.

That's when artists need to return the art materials to retailers. Below are some tips for how make those returns speedy and effective so as to ensure you get a refund - and the problem is fixed for the future.

Screen shot of a video by Eunike Nugroho
This highlights two spots which appear on the watercolour paper only when the paint passes over them

(see the video here)

TIPS for returning defective art materials and getting a refund

Why it's important to return goods

  • Manufacturers cannot correct faults if they're not aware of them. The nature of the manufacturing process is such that while they can sample check for obvious things that can be checked it's entirely feasible that problems can occur without this being obvious to the manufacturer.

Returns - Policy, Principles and the Law

  • The overriding principle is that Retailers will only deal with returns on goods supplied by them. You can't expect a retailer to sort out returns for goods he hasn't supplied - even if he also stocks that product.  However if the manufacturer's policy is that you can deal with any of their approved retailers than that's what you can do.
  • Most retailers have a Returns Policy
    • Do read what this is for the retailers you do business with. 
    • In general, this should echo current legislation. However if the law changed recently, what it says on their website may not yet have caught up with the change
    • Remind retailers who say "no can do" that all goods need to be of merchantable quality for the purpose for which they are sold and that they are obliged to comply with the law. (Plus document everything if a retailer takes this stance - put everything in writing rather than dealing with them on the phone).
  • The Law governing the rights of customers always "trumps" any Returns Policy devised by a Retailer. 
    • Note that retailers cannot deny you your rights in law.
    • In effect this means it doesn't matter what a retailer's Returns Policy says if you live in a country where your consumer rights are enshrined in law. What a retailer has to do is comply with the law or deal with the agency which regulates trading standards.
    • However also note that some retailers will have a Returns Policy that can be better than the rights you are entitled to (eg "no questions asked"). This sort of approach is what gives some retailers the 'edge' and enables them to build a faithful customer base.
  • Returns in the UK: Here is a link to the government website which states the rules on Accepting returns and giving refunds: the law for all UK retailers. There are only certain circumstances when a retailer does NOT have to offer a refund.

When you don’t have to offer a refund

You don’t have to refund a customer if they:
  • knew an item was faulty when they bought it
  • damaged an item by trying to repair it themselves or getting someone else to do it (though they may still have the right to a repair, replacement or partial refund)
  • no longer want an item (eg because it’s the wrong size or colour) unless they bought it without seeing it
You have to offer a refund for certain items only if they’re faulty, such as:
  • personalised items and custom-made items, eg curtains
  • perishable items, eg frozen food or flowers
  • newspapers and magazines
  • unwrapped CDs, DVDs and computer software

Who to contact

  • Contact the retailer you bought the art materials from in the first instance. They are responsible for actioning a return and providing feedback to the wholesaler and the manufacturer. The latter is also more likely to listen to others in the supply chain who are feeding back the same message about problems with a product.

The importance of paperwork

  • Find your proof of purchase - which means keeping all your receipts. 
    • You are of course filing all receipts away in your tax file if you are claiming for business expenses!
    • This establishes which retailer you bought the goods from
  • Use their Retailer's Returns Form - it makes life much easier for you and them if you use their return form. This should have the correct address to mail goods back. If you're not sure of the address email them and ask - and then copy paste.

The importance of images

  • Send your retailer a photo of the problem. This is sometimes enough and means you don't have to send back the goods
  • Even better send a video which illustrates the problem. Eunike was videoing herself painting when the spots suddenly appeared in her paper!

The importance of packaging

  • The best and cheapest approach is to reuse their packaging if possible. If you are buying online and having art materials mailed to you, it's very wise to:
    • open the package carefully so you can reuse the packaging if you need to
    • if buying online keep the packaging until you have checked goods are OK eg there are no obvious problems (eg marks and/or creases on fine art paper)

The importance of timing

  • It's much easier to return if you do so promptly. You remember better who you bought the goods from and they have all their records to hand
  • Check when you receive your goods even if you not going to use straightaway.  Make sure they are visibly OK before adding them to your stock.
  • However you can never check for invisible faults that do not manifest themselves until e.g. you apply paint on the paper - as happened to Eunike. Make it clear that the fault was invisible.
  • It's not impossible to return goods you've not used straight away - but to do so you do need to be clear about:

The refund and the credit transaction

  • A refund is normally done via a credit to the card which you used to pay for the goods.  Whether or not the retailer has access to the details of your card depends on the system used to make the payment. You may need to provide the card details to the retailer.
  • You will only get a cash refund if... you bought the goods in an art shop, paid by cash and return them to the art shop.
  • You are NOT required to accept a credit note for future goods from the retailer - unless this is acceptable to you. Only accept a credit note if you know for certain that you will be ordering again from this supplier.

What's your experience? Have your say

  • What's been your experience when you have have needed to make a return and ask for a refund? 
  • Are some retailers better than others?


  1. Jacksons Art are very good and helpful

  2. In the States, I've received nothing but great cooperation and consideration from Dick Blick's when faced with a product or shipping problem. They have always been courteous and they rectify the problem immediately.


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED AGAIN due to very silly ignorant people who leave spam comments without realising they have no benefit for them.

Please feel free to comment on my Facebook Page as my blog posts are always posted there (but please note anonymous comments are not published and I block and report spammers to Google and on Facebook)

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.