The countdown to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the biggest shopping days of the year, has already started.
But this year is unlike any other, with non-essential shops all shut due to the current lockdown. As a result many of us will be going online to do our shopping. Online shopping has many benefits. However, at this busy time of the year, we hear from many consumers who have experienced problems after they bought something online.
Your rights when shopping online
When you buy online you have specific consumer rights which are in addition to the rights you have when you buy in a shop.
If you buy something online and it turns out to be faulty you have the same rights as if you bought it in a shop. You should email the business immediately, outlining the problem and ask for a refund or replacement. If the item you bought online was faulty or not what you ordered, you don’t have to pay the cost of returning it. If you ask for a refund, you are also entitled to any standard delivery costs you paid.
When you buy online from an EU-based website you have a 14-day cooling off period during which you can cancel and get a refund. The 14 day period starts from the date you receive your order. You can cancel for any reason however you may have to pay the cost of returning the goods. You have a further 14 days to return the item after telling the business you are cancelling the order.
You don’t have the same rights if you buy from a website outside the EU. Keep in mind that if a website has .ie or .co.uk in the address, this doesn’t automatically mean it is within the EU. Check the business’s geographic address on their website, and if it’s outside the EU, check out their returns policy before buying anything.
Top tips for shopping online
If you’re thinking of bagging a bargain this Black Friday, check out the tips below before you click that shopping cart icon and checkout:
- If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If you see something that is significantly cheaper on one site than everywhere else, be cautious and do some more research.
- If you are not sure if a website is selling genuine items, look for a list of authorised sellers for that particular product.
- Buy from a reputable website with positive customer reviews. Look for genuine online reviews but be wary as sometimes they can be fake. If you are unsure about a website, ask family, friends or colleagues if they have ever used it before.
- Only make payments on a website that has a secure payment section, and look for the padlock symbol at the start of the web address. Make sure to check out the site’s terms and conditions before you buy.
- Use a secure payment method such as a debit or credit card. Never send cash, transfer money directly or use a money wiring service as you will have no recourse if something goes wrong.
- When your item arrives, check it as soon as possible to make sure it is what you ordered and it’s in an acceptable condition in case you need to return it.
- Leave plenty of time for your order to be delivered, especially if it’s something you have on your Christmas shopping list.
Make sure to factor in any delivery charges, and if you buy from a website outside the EU you may have to pay VAT and duty.