Consumer – Online Shopping & Deliveries

I recently bought a dress for my daughter for a family event that has now been postponed. I know it will be rescheduled but it I don’t think the dress will fit her if the new date is next year.  Am I entitled to a refund, credit note or exchange?

Your consumer rights for returning goods depend on whether you bought the dress in store or online. Under consumer law, items bought in store can only be returned if they are faulty.  Some businesses, however, offer exchanges or refunds if consumers change their mind. This is considered a goodwill gesture by the business, but it is not a legal requirement. Businesses also tend to have a time limit on this, for example, you may have to return items within 28 days.

If you bought the dress in a store you should check what their returns policy is, and what timeframe applies. If the business doesn’t accept returns which are not faulty, or if you are outside the timeframe for returning it, we would suggest that you ask them if they are willing to adapt their policy due to the exceptional circumstances arising from COVID-19, as a goodwill gesture.  If they will not offer you a refund, ask if they can facilitate either a credit note, or an exchange for a bigger size. However, there is no obligation on the business to facilitate any of these requests.

If you bought the dress online different consumer law applies and you have 14 days to change your mind from when you receive it. You must notify the business of your intention to cancel within these 14 days. Once you have written to the business advising them of this, you then have 14 days from that date to return it. Find out more about your rights when shopping online.

What happens if my online deliveries are delayed due to COVID-19?

COVID-19 could impact on the ability of businesses in affected areas to produce goods or to meet agreed delivery timescales. This could mean that you may experience delays or even non-delivery. Your rights in relation to buying online will depend on whether you bought the item from an EU, or a non-EU country.

If you bought from a website within the EU, you have strong rights. The delivery times depend on what you agreed when you bought the item and if the delivery time was not agreed the item should be delivered within 30 days.

If the item is not delivered within the agreed timeframe you have the following options:

  1.  You can agree a new delivery date that suits you where this is appropriate in your circumstances
  2. Where it is not appropriate to agree a new delivery date in your circumstances or where the trader has refused to deliver the goods, you can cancel the contract and get a full refund.

You do not have the same level of protection if you buy from a website based in a country outside the EU and you will need to check the terms and conditions of the website you made the purchase from.

Find out more about your rights when you buy online.

Is there any other way to get a refund for non-delivery of goods?

If you can’t get a refund for non-delivery of goods from a business and you have paid by credit or debit card you could try the chargeback option.  You should contact your credit or debit card provider – usually your bank – who may agree to reverse the transaction. More information can be found about chargeback here.

What happens if the company goes out of business?

When you hear that a company is closing down or has gone out of business, the news can be worrying for everyone involved, including suppliers, creditors, staff and customers.

Depending on the situation, the company may have gone out of business completely, or it may be in liquidation, examinership, or receivership.

This information will help you understand the possible impact on you if a company is going out of business. Each situation is likely to have different circumstances so this information is a guide only. But you should act quickly in all cases.

In general, you are probably at greater risk of losing out if you have already paid for goods or services that haven’t yet been delivered.

There are four main ways in which you could lose your money in the event of a company going out of business:

  • You have paid in full for something that is due to be collected/delivered or a service that you have not used yet
  • You have paid a deposit
  • You have a gift voucher or gift card for the business
  • You discover you have a faulty product that you bought from the business

If the business goes into examinership, liquidation, or receivership, you will be treated as an ’unsecured creditor’. A creditor is someone the company owes money to. If you have paid for items or a service that the business has not delivered yet, for example a sofa, and it goes out of business, then you are a creditor as they owe you money. However, as an unsecured creditor you rank behind secured creditors, such as Revenue, employees who are owed wages and banks that are owed money.

If a company changes ownership, the new owners may not have purchased the previous owner’s liabilities. This means the new owners may not have to honour gift vouchers issued by the previous owner. Also, the new owners may not be responsible for fulfilling orders placed with the previous owner which have not yet been delivered.

What can you do if you have paid money to a business that closes down before your item is delivered or the service is provided?

  • If the business goes into liquidation before you receive your product or service, and if you have purchased a product contact the liquidator to see if you can get the item.
  • Your contract is with the business you buy from. So, if a supplier of that business closes down, the business should fix the problem for you.
  • Check the website of the business and also the website of the liquidator, examiner or receiver to get the latest news on the situation. Contact the official appointed to look after the affairs of the business for further details.
  • If you have been given a guarantee by the manufacturer, you could also make a claim against the manufacturer if the goods turn out to be faulty.
  • If you paid by credit/debit card, contact your card provider (usually your bank) to find out if it is possible for them to reverse the transaction using a chargeback.

If you are trying to contact a business and they are not replying to you and you think they are gone out of business you should contact the Companies Registration Office (CRO) as they may be able to give you more information.

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