High street retailer Next has been accused of breaking consumer law by failing to refund delivery charges for goods bought online then returned.

According to a BBC investigation, Next fell foul of the Distance Selling Regulations law introduced in 2000 whereby a customer returning goods within seven days is entitled to a refund on both the item purchased and the initial delivery charge.

A Next spokesman told the BBC it said it would change its policy from the start of August. He added: ”During the last three years, Next has not offered a refund of the delivery charge. This was in line with our interpretation of the Distance Selling Directive. However, following clarification from the European Court of Justice in April this year on interpretation of the Directive, Next is in the process of implementing the necessary changes to ensure that delivery charges will be refunded.”

The spokesman added that customers had not been charged for returning goods, despite the fact that there is no regulation for retailers to cover the cost of returning unwanted items.

Other retailers including Debenhams and Littlewoods were also found to be in breach of the regulations.

The Debenhams website states that it only refunds delivery charges if the product is faulty. However, a spokeswoman told the BBC that is not the case and added that the website will be amended.

Littlewoods told researchers that customers were charged a delivery fee no matter how quickly the product was returned. Its website also states it will not refund delivery charges unless the product is faulty.