In an email to its customers, the £3bn company said it would close down any accounts where it had detected “unusual patterns of return activity.”
“[If] we suspect someone is actually wearing their purchases and then returning them or ordering and returning loads – way, waaay more than even the most loyal ASOS customer would order – then we might have to deactivate the account and any associated accounts.”
The news seemed to scare shoppers, with some vowing to hold back their orders for fear of being singled out.
Yeah, I know! I've seen quite a few bloggers that have had their accounts deleted too, so this is definitely not giving out a good message. Think I'll stick to shopping directly with brands.— Laura (@life_lipstick) April 4, 2019
ASOS is changing its return policy and has clocked all the YouTubers doing hauls each week and returning everything pic.twitter.com/30Icwm7gnl— Meg (@MegVClark) April 4, 2019
ASOS sugar-coating what will be a bitter pill for some. They're extending the returns window to 45 days (a move of limited interest to most) whilst - the real message is - they're cracking down on people who order stuff, wear it once and return it. Fair play. pic.twitter.com/gHfZBSSmNa— katerina. (@kateiscuban) April 3, 2019
@ASOS— Dr Ms Bumble ramone (@ExploitedRamone) April 4, 2019
I’m really put off ordering after getting that weird email about unusual returns. If your premier service is causing you problems then get rid of it.dont make me feel nervous about ordering a size 4 and a 3 to see what fits
Barclaycard carried out a survey of 2,000 people last summer which found that almost one in ten UK shoppers admitted buying clothes to wear once with the sole aim of posting a photo to social media before returning their purchases shortly after.
This type of activity, which Barclaycard called a “hashtag moment”, is what ASOS wants to clamp down on.
“Returns are [an] enormous part of the cost of doing business in [the online fashion] sector and hence profitability,” said Shore Cap analyst Clive Black, who estimated that as much as a third of all online purchases are returned.
According to data collated by global returns management platform ReBOUND, the cost of returns to UK retailers between Black Friday and Christmas Day last year was £2.4bn.
ASOS, which is due to publish its interim results on Wednesday, saw its shares fall 4% to 3,176p on Thursday.