No online returns policy? Steps to take today

March 5, 2021

If you buy online, you don’t have the same opportunity to see what you are buying. Because of this, for most items you buy online the law provides consumers with an important right – that is to change your mind and get a full refund within a specific timeframe. This is often called a right of cancellation.

Businesses based in the EU who sell online are obliged to make that information available to you. But what happens if you weren’t informed that you could return something? All is not lost, here we set out what you need to know and the steps you can take.

What are my rights to return an item?

When you buy goods online you have 14 days from the date you receive them to tell the business that you want to cancel. You do not need to give the business any reason for your decision. After you tell the business that you are cancelling, you have a further 14 days to return the goods to them.

When you are returning goods, you will have to pay for the cost of returning them. The business is then required to refund all payments, including any standard delivery charges included in the original price you paid.

Before they commit to buying, consumers must be given information telling them that they have the right to cancel and the process they must follow to cancel their order. Businesses may provide a cancellation period that is longer than 14 days, but it cannot be any less than that.

What to do if you were not informed about your right to cancel?

Along with having to provide information, businesses must ensure that it is correct and does not mislead a consumer about their right to cancel under consumer protection law. If the business has not informed you about your right to cancel then your 14 day cancellation period is extended by 12 months.

This means that if you bought from a website within the last year and that business failed to give you information on your right to cancel, you still have time to cancel the contract, return the goods and get a refund. To do this, write to the business to explain that you were not provided with the required cancellation information when you shopped on their website. Tell the business that you are now exercising your extended right to cancel under the Consumer Rights Directive. Include copies of any documentation attached to the order, e.g. emails from the business. You could also include a link to this article.

What if you were not informed that you have to pay for the cost of returning the goods?

If a business does not explicitly inform consumers that they have to pay the cost of returning goods, then the business has to pay for the cost of the return. When returning goods to a business, you should keep proof of postage, for example a certificate of postage.

If you have any questions about your rights, or you believe that a business has misled you about your rights please contact us through our website, social media channels or by calling our helpline on 01 402 5555.

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