Things to be aware of when shopping online

Know your rights

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

Gardaí issue online shopping warning ahead of Christmas rush

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has issued further guidance to help consumers be aware of their rights before they shop online in the sales in January.

It can be confusing to know exactly what your rights are when you are shopping in the sales. Can you return something if it doesn’t fit, if something turns out to be faulty do you have the same rights, do you have to accept a credit note? Your rights are different depending on if you buy online or in-store and with more of us than ever buying online, it’s important you know what you can expect and what you are entitled to if something goes wrong.

Here are  the CCPC’s top consumer rights tips. 

Top tips for buying online:

·         Know your rights: If you are buying from a website that is based in the EU, you have 14 days from the day you receive your purchase to change your mind and another 14 days to return it for a full refund. This is not the case for in-store purchases where exchanges or refunds for change of mind returns depend on store policy rather than the law. While some EU retailers offer free postage on returns, this is not required, so check the returns policy before you make your purchase.

·         Brexit: From January 1st if you buy from a UK website your EU consumer rights will not automatically apply and your purchase could be covered by UK law instead. If you have a problem with your goods or you don’t receive them, you may not be able to use the services of the European Consumer Centre or EU dispute resolution procedures. This is particularly important to be aware of if you are buying expensive goods from UK websites. Check the address of the company and look for details of what taxes and charges are included in the final price. Check also what terms and conditions apply to returns and refunds.

·         Taxes and charges: When you shop from websites outside of the EU, your goods will be subject to VAT and other customs changes if they cost more than €22. These charges can be collected by the online retailer when you are buying the goods or alternatively you may receive a bill from the delivery company before your goods are delivered. When buying from non-EU websites always check the terms and conditions to see if VAT and other duties are included in the final price.  From January 1st, all goods ordered from the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) will be subject to VAT and other changes.

·         Do your research: Buy from a reputable website or one with verified user feedback. Check if any of your friends have used the site and look at reviews on discussion forums. Beware of sites that have only recently been set up. Remember that just because a website ends in ‘.ie’ doesn’t mean it’s based in Ireland. Check the retailer’s postal address in the terms and conditions to find out where they are based.

·         Faulty is faulty! If an item is faulty and you were not made aware of this when you bought it, your rights do not change just because it was on sale. Your contract is with the retailer or supplier who sold you the product (not the manufacturer) so they are responsible for resolving the problem. Under consumer law this means you must be provided with either a repair, a replacement or a full refund depending on the nature of the fault. If it’s faulty, it’s up to the seller to put things right.

·         Look for particular information: Before you make a purchase, under EU law you are entitled to receive information including the total price of what you are buying, including any taxes. You should also be provided with full contact details, including the trader’s address, so you know where they are and how to contact them. So before you buy, read the terms and conditions as well as any information on delivery, returns and price and remember that these rules apply within the EU.

·         Finally, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Check the typical or recommended retail price of the product and be cautious of websites which sell it for significantly less. If you are not sure whether a site is selling genuine products, check with the manufacturer for details of authorised sellers.

For more information on your consumer rights visit www.ccpc.ie