Buying online post-Brexit

December 9, 2020

In light of new research by the CCPC, which suggests a lack of awareness among consumers about differences in buying goods from EU and non-EU websites, online shoppers are asked to be mindful of the impact of Brexit when shopping online. From 1 January, Brexit will mean changes when buying online or returning goods from UK based businesses.

EU consumer rights will no longer automatically apply

Although UK consumer protection law will remain in place, without a formal agreement between the UK and the EU, from 1 January 2021 your EU consumer rights will no longer automatically apply when buying from a UK website. This is important to be aware of, particularly if you are considering buying high value goods from UK based businesses and want to feel confident that you can follow up easily in the new year in case of any aftersales issues.

Check where the business is based

Our research also showed that while the number of Irish consumers who are shopping online from the UK is falling, only 1 in 10 plan to pay more attention to where a business is based after Brexit. It is important to check where the trader is located, as EU consumer rights will no longer automatically apply when buying from a UK website post-Brexit. You may instead consider finding an alternative EU store, to ensure you have stronger rights should an issue arise in the future.

Read the T&Cs on the business’s website

Despite a decline in consumers buying from UK based businesses, 1 in 2 (53%) consumers are still buying goods from the UK, with clothing, footwear and electronics identified as the most popular purchases. Be sure to check out the terms and conditions on the website you are buying from for details of any import taxes or additional charges that you may have to pay – for example, VAT or customs charges on delivery. Also remember to check if you can return or cancel your order, if you change your mind.

Doireann Sweeney, Head of Corporate & Stakeholder Communications with the CCPC, explained:

“As an Irish consumer, EU consumer protection law gives you the right to change your mind after you receive your goods, as well as other strong protections when buying online. Although currently these rights are also reflected in UK consumer protection law, from 1 January, you may find it difficult to enforce these rights should issues arise with UK retailers in the future.”

For more information and support when shopping online, check out our checklist before you buy.

We have also prepared a printable version of the checklist so you can keep it beside you when you’re shopping online.

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