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Charging A Handling Fee

Question

I would like to know if handling fee is permissible in sharyat? The scenario is: The customer orders a product. The shopkeeper orders it for him. The customer then buys the product and returns it due to it been wrong. The fault is the customers, because he ordered the wrong item. The shopkeeper then charges the customer a handling fee, and the customer gets nothing in return.

Is there any way to make this permissible?

Answer

We understand from the nature of the query that the seller sells goods to his customers. The client intended to purchase a particular product which the shopkeeper ordered particularly for him from the supplier/manufacturer. The purchaser did not see the item at the time of purchase. The Fuqaha have written that if a person purchases an item which he hasn’t seen (at the time of purchase) then the sale of the item will be valid in the light of Shariah but the purchaser has the choice of either keeping or returning the item on seeing it. 

In our scenario, the client returned the item on seeing it due to not satisfying his needs or expectations which affords him the right of returning the item. However, the shopkeeper must have incurred certain expenses in ordering the goods for the client, such as phoning the supplier, picking up the goods from the supplier’s premises or arranging delivery at a cost, etc. Due to incurring such expenses both parties may reach an agreement whereby the purchaser voluntarily agrees to reimburse the seller for expenses incurred particularly when the seller supplied goods according to the buyer’s specifications. If the purchaser didn’t place an order with the seller, he wouldn’t have had to incur any expenses. However, this cannot be enforced upon the purchaser since he is entitled to return the goods without having to pay any penalties/fees.

Checked and Approved By:

Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.

References

Mukhtasar-ul-Quduri Pg.331 

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