Know your rights when shopping online

November 7, 2016

With the Christmas shopping period on the horizon, you may be thinking of picking up gifts, decorations and party outfits for the festive season online. The good news is you have specific rights when you buy online in the EU which you should be aware of if you are thinking of taking advantage of online deals and sales in the run up to Christmas.

Before you buy

You have strong rights when you buy from an EU-based website. You don’t have the same protections if you buy from a website outside of the EU. Just because it has an .ie or .co.uk address it doesn’t mean it’s an EU site. Make sure that you check the business’s geographic address on the website. If you are buying from a business based outside the EU make sure that you read and understand that site’s returns policy beforehand.

Be aware, if you buy something from another consumer online or through an auction site, such as eBay or DoneDeal, you do not have any consumer rights. Also, auction sites usually take no responsibility for the quality of the goods listed online, so it’s a good idea to do your research before you bid – check the seller’s reviews and read the auction site’s terms and conditions.

If you change your mind

When you buy online, you have a cooling-off period of 14 days – starting from the date you receive your item – to cancel the order and get a refund. You don’t have to give a reason to cancel, but you will probably have to pay for the cost of returning the item. You must return the item within 14 days after you tell the business you want to cancel the order.

You can’t cancel the order if what you bought was customised or tailor-made, e.g. a leather bag with your partner’s name on it. You also can’t cancel if the item cannot be resold for health or hygiene reasons, such as earrings or underwear. Perishable goods, such as fresh food, do not have a cooling-off period either.

If your order is not delivered

If you bought something online from a website in the EU, you should receive it within 30 days unless another date was agreed between you and the business. If it is not delivered within 30 days you should contact the business and arrange another, convenient date. If they still don’t deliver the item during this extra period, you can cancel the order. You should receive a full refund (including any delivery costs) without delay.

Some things you buy online you may need to be delivered by a specific date, for example a Christmas present. Before you pay for the item, you should agree a specific delivery date with the business. If it turns out the business is unable to deliver the item by the agreed date, you can cancel the order. You should receive a full refund (including any standard delivery costs) without any delay.

It there is a delay in you receiving your refund and you paid for the item using a credit or debit card, your card provider may agree to reverse the transaction. This is called a chargeback. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately and give them details of your transaction.

If you bought something that’s faulty

If you bought something online that turned out to be faulty, you have the same rights as if you bought it in a shop. You should contact the website and ask for a refund or replacement. If the business agrees to refund you, you should be refunded within 14 days of them receiving the returned item from you and they should pay for any return shipping costs.

Get prepared for this shopping season and get more information on your rights when you buy online

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