Christmas is coming… are online retailers getting fat?

Online shopping and National Consumer Week

Christmas is coming and many of us will be shopping online. But it’s not just the internet giants who will reap the rewards of the Festive Season. Many smaller retailers and individuals are benefiting by using the big-name platforms, such as Amazon and Ebay, to sell their goods. In fact, more than half of the products sold on Amazon worldwide in 2017 were from third-party sellers.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Trading Standards have launched a campaign to raise awareness of using online marketplaces, such as on Amazon, GumTree and eBay. This is part of National Consumer Week, which starts on 26th November 2018, to coincide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

National Consumer Week picture of laptop

So, how do you best protect yourself when shopping online, if you’re dealing with individual sellers?

What you need to know when shopping from a business through a marketplace

10 top tips concerning your rights and how to best protect yourself

1)    Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, consumers have 14 days cooling off period for changing their minds. There are some exceptions to this, such as bespoke items. Whether or not return postage has to be paid depends on the trader’s terms and conditions. If the item is faulty you should receive the full cost of any postage paid for sending the item to you and for returning it.

2)    For any complaint you will need to go through the platform’s process for complaining to an external seller. You may also find that the platform gives you additional protection.

3)    The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that items must be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. You can return any items if they do not meet any of these requirements. You do not have to pay return postage in this instance.

4)    If you are buying from an individual and not a business then the item needs only to be “as described”.

5)    If you paid extra for a dated/timed delivery and it does not arrive on time you are entitled to a full refund of the extra cost.

6)    Goods must be delivered within the time frame agreed with the seller. If one hasn’t been agreed (you have agreed a time frame if the listing supplies a time frame) the seller must deliver ‘without undue delay’ and at the very latest not more than 30 days from the day after the contract is made. After this time you are entitled to a full refund.

7)    Check where the item is being sent from! You will have the equivalent consumer rights if ordered from within the EU but not if it is ordered from outside the EU.

8)    Use a payment system, such as PayPal, when purchasing items. This will give you cover if anything goes wrong with the purchase.

9)    If the item is over £100 (and under £30,000) and you purchase the item on a credit card, you have a right to be refunded via the credit card company if you make a claim within 6 years (5 in Scotland), using Section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

10) Completing a credit card transaction through a third party payment service means that the credit card provider and the seller are no longer in a direct relationship, so are not equally liable. So, you do not have the credit card cover if you use a third-party payment service such as PayPal, Amazon Marketplace, Worldpay and Google Checkout.

Research into knowledge of consumer rights and  online shopping

The CAB’s summary information for National Consumer Week looked at research into habits and problems with online shopping.

“Nearly half of people (48%) didn’t think there was a difference in their consumer rights when buying online compared to buying in a store, despite the fact that they usually have enhanced rights on returns for online purchases.

A significant proportion of people didn’t know their rights changed depending on the type of seller – for example a trader or private seller – with over a third (35%) saying there wasn’t a difference in their rights and a further 9% saying they didn’t know either way.”

“The most common redress issue reported to the consumer service is where the consumer wanted a refund but was struggling to get one.”

This was from the BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker August 2018

Further help with online shopping

woman sitting at computer text how not to get ripped off when shopping online

 

Don’t let shopping online become a “rip off”

Your Rights, Mail Order, Online and Deliveries

 

 

Your rights with deliveries:

More resources for complaining effectively

Complaining on social media

The twitter symbol How not to complain on Twitter

 

Is social media an effective method for complaining?

5 ways how not to use Twitter to complain (and 5 ways how you should)

 

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

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Make Light Work of Black Friday

Black Friday is coming around again, that day in the calendar which marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Black Friday is 24th November this year, but are there really bargains to be had? Last year a Which? investigation into Black Friday revealed that 49% of products on offer were actually cheaper in the months before or after Black Friday and the prices it checked last year showed that only 8% of the Black Friday deals were actually the lowest prices. In September Argos was lambasted for its 3 for 2 toy offer where many of the toys worked out cheaper if you bought them the day before.

So how careful do we need to be of Black Friday? Are there really bargains to be had or is it all hype?

1) Write a list! Write down all the things you need to buy. This can include: the people for whom you have to buy presents, possible ideas and a budget. This will help you not go over a budget if you are easily carried away with possible bargains and gives you choices.

2) Do your research. Armed with your list, look up the likely stores for those people/items. Make a list of the prices that you find.

3) Use comparison websites. Do an Internet search on specific items and use sites which will compare prices. You may find that there are other stores which stock the items you are after and some may have a better deal regardless of Black Friday!

4) Get right ahead! Put items in baskets! Go online and put things in baskets and don’t checkout. Make a note of what stores you have done this with! Then when Black Friday comes take a look at all the online baskets and see who has what for the cheapest. This way, not only will you have done all your research but you’ll be ahead of others shopping that day for popular items likely to go out of stock!

5) Black Friday isn’t just about gifts for others! Often people will say it’s only a bargain if you need it. Twaddle. We don’t need half the clothes and shoes etc. that we own, but if we see a pair of boots reduced it makes the purchase far more attractive. So, have an idea of what items you would like for yourself, if they are reduced.

6) Check for further discounts. Internet search your items with phrases like “discount codes” “discount offers” and “vouchers” to see if you can get more discounts. There are a number of sites that provide discount codes for numerous stores.

7) Check out Zeek*. You can buy and sell gift cards on Zeek. Choose from a range of monetary value gift cards for hundreds of stores with varying discounts.

8) Black Friday is not just for Christmas. Many retailers spread their deals over the month and others throughout the year. The idea is that consumers will spend the same amount over a year whether the majority is across all year or concentrated over a few weeks. So don’t just look for bargains on Black Friday. There will be Cyber Monday and places like Amazon have daily deals which also need to be checked. Use the Camel Camel Camel website which is a price tracker that provides price drop alerts and price history for products sold by Amazon.

9) Emails and social media. Sign up to newsletters now. You can always unsubscribe later but often newsletters are the best way to be the first to learn of any discounts and offers. “Like” Facebook pages and follow on Twitter as many retailers will announce their offers and discount codes through these methods too. Follow money bloggers who will frequently share discounts and deals. Join forums and money saving groups if you really want to get everything going and check with others if so-called deals are really deals. You could set up a separate email account for all these emails and then allocate some time each day to look at just the deals!

10) Store versus shops. If you intend to go to the stores on Black Friday take your list with you and check the online prices either with that or on the phone. Then you have the double whammy, as sometimes items are in stock online only or in store only.

11) List upcoming events. Think of future, parties etc. You can pick up some bargain toys for children’s parties that you know you will have in the year and just put them away. (But remember toys will be discounted a lot in the run up to Christmas and after Christmas sales too).

12) Avoid the mobs. Possibly impossible?! Certainly if you are setting out early for certain stores! But this is where you need a) your list so you don’t get carried away and b) to be sure that that store will have items you want. Remember too that offers written on doors are often just a way to get you in and there may be limited stock!

13) Take care on seasonal items. Things like Winter coats are likely to be in the sales and discounted further when retailers want to get rid of their stock and Christmas decorations will still be cheaper after the event!

14) Use Cashback sites. Sites like Topcashback*, Quidco*, Free Fivers*, Kidstart* (Kidstart cashback goes to your nominated child’s bank account). Others that I’ve not used are  Imutual, Give or take and there are others. They all provide cashback when you go through their sites and make purchases from the stores listed. Check them all, as they have different retailers and different percentages! Do this before filling your online baskets so you’re all set to go! Most have apps so you can do this whilst out shopping when you see a bargain and can order and get it delivered instead! Don’t rely on this though as there may be terms and conditions that you miss (such as using vouchers) negating the cashback.

15) Make sure that a promise is a promise. Some places have a price promise which is great. But read the small print! Some stores such as John Lewis won’t match an online price, for example. Others will only match the price if it was on sale that exact same day and most, if not all, will tell you it has to be exactly the same item/bundle. So, exactly the same colour, make, model, free gift, warranty etc. (Although remember your consumer rights provide more protection than any “free warranty”).

16) Check the model. Black Friday is usually good for getting the latest technology, but check the release dates for the next model. Will you still want that ‘phone or laptop if the newer version comes out a week later?

17) Stay up late! If you have done all your preparation, be ready to go online just after midnight on Black Friday morning, so you get your bargains before things go out of stock.

18) Security. Check that the site is secure and bona fide to prevent any fraud. Don’t just click on the first site that comes up in a search engine query unless you’re sure where you’re going.

19) Add ons. A lot of the items may need additional things such as batteries. Don’t get these at the same time, you will more than likely get these cheaper when you do research on that at a later date!

20) Articles. Every so often Google “Black Friday offers 2017”! This will bring up store pages and online newspaper articles which reveal where some of the best bargains are.

Remember your consumer rights are just the same when buying items in the sales.

Should you have need to complain see Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

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*Referral links.  I’ll get a few pounds if you sign up once you’ve made more than whatever their minimum is. (Topcashback is the one I really use and that’s £10) Depending on when you click on this link you should receive a bonus too but that depends on the offer on at the time. You can then use your own referral link and send to friends too! Free money!