Survive the sales this Black Friday

November 16, 2018

As the year’s busiest online shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are approaching, it’s good to know where you stand so your online shopping doesn’t leave you out of pocket.

Online shopping has many benefits, particularly around events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. However, at this time of year we hear from many consumers who experience problems after they buy things online.

Know your rights

Your rights are the same on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as they are any other time of the year. However, there are differences in your rights when you buy online instead of in a shop.

Shopping online

When you shop online you have specific rights which you may not be aware of. These rights are on top of the consumer rights you have when you buy in a shop.

  • 14 days to return the goods: When you buy online from an EU-based website, you have a cooling-off period of 14 days to cancel and get a refund. The 14 days kicks in from the date you receive your order. You can cancel for any reason, though you may have to pay the cost of returning the goods. You then have 14 days after telling the business you’re cancelling the order to send it back.
  • Faulty goods: If you buy something online that turns out to be faulty, you have the same rights as if you bought it in a shop. You should contact the business by email immediately 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 delivery costs you paid.
  • Non-EU websites: You don’t have the same protections if you buy from a website outside of the EU. Just because it has an .ie or 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 the returns policy beforehand.

 Buying in a shop

  • Returns policy: If you buy something in a shop and you simply change your mind, you are not automatically entitled to return it for a refund or exchange. However, many shops will give you a refund with proof of purchase or allow you to exchange the item. This is shop policy and not consumer law. Some shops may change or shorten their ‘change of mind’ returns policy during sales. Make sure you know the shop’s policy for returning something if you change your mind.
  • Faulty goods: If you buy something in a shop and it turns out to be faulty, you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund. Remember, if you want to bring something back, you may need proof of purchase. This can be your receipt but could also be a copy of a credit /debit card statement.

Tips for shopping online

  • Buy from a reputable website or one with positive customer feedback. Check if any of your friends have used the site and check online reviews. Make sure to read the terms and conditions before you buy.
  • When your order arrives check it straight away to make sure it’s ok and you’re happy with it. If not, you should return it as quickly as you can.
  • Make sure that you leave plenty of time for your order to arrive.
  • Use a secure method of payment, such as a debit or credit card. Never send cash or use a money wiring service because you will have no recourse if something goes wrong.
  • Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If you see something significantly cheaper on a website than everywhere else, be wary. If you’re not sure if a site is selling genuine products, look for a list of authorised sellers.
  • Remember if you buy from outside of the EU you may have to pay VAT and excise duty on your order.
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