Business Awareness of Consumer Rights when Buying Online

The CCPC commissioned Amarách Research to conduct a survey of SMEs in the retail trade in Ireland to identify their awareness of consumer rights when buying online. The sample consisted of 200 Irish SMEs who sold goods online in Ireland and to other EU countries. Interviewing took place in August and September 2018. Business owners, managers, customer service managers and those who manage online selling were surveyed by phone as part of the research. 36% of businesses surveyed were based in Dublin, 22% were based across the rest of Leinster, 21% were based in Connaught/Ulster and 21% were based in Munster.

Summary Findings:

  • The majority of businesses (86%), provide a refund to customers if they change their mind and wish to return an item.
  • The majority of businesses (82%) allow customers at least 14 days to change their mind. The time frame should start when the customer receives the goods, however for almost 40% of businesses the period starts from when the goods are ordered or despatched.
  • 81% of businesses allow 14 days or more to return goods. However, for 3 in 5 businesses the period starts when the customer receives the goods rather than when the customer notifies the business that they want to return the goods – which is the legal requirement.
  • Only one third of businesses provide a returns form for customers to use in the case of returns.
  • A quarter of businesses alter their change of mind policy for sale items. Consumer protection law applies irrespective of whether an item is discounted.
  • 90% of businesses claim to refund purchases as a result of the customer changing their mind in 14 days or less, this time period usually starts when the item has been received back by the business.
  • 22% of businesses do not accept returns when the packaging has been opened.
  • 3 in 5 businesses (59%) make the customer cover the cost of returns and the majority (92%) inform the customer that they are liable for the costs.
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