Categories
Online shopping and deliveries

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

Advice about shopping online

When purchasing items online it’s easy to get carried away when you see what you think is a bargain. But make sure you know where you are buying from and what your rights are before you part with your money, especially if the retailer is outside the EU.

woman with coffee cup hand on mouse at laptop

Online shopping rights

If you are buying anything online, under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013  you have 14 days cooling off period for changing your mind. You have up to 14 days to inform the retailer and 14 days from then to send back.  There are some exceptions to this, such as bespoke items. Whether or not return postage has to be paid when you change your mind depends on the trader’s terms and conditions.

If you paid extra for speedier delivery and it wasn’t delivered on time, you are entitled to this cost back. If the item is faulty (regardless of whether it is a bespoke item) you should not have to pay return postage and you should be refunded the full cost of any postage paid for sending the item to you. These regulations were put into place in the UK under an EU Directive and therefore you have this cover for purchasing all items online within the EU.

Financial cover if you have problems getting a refund

If the item costs over a £100 and you pay by credit card you will also have cover under Section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which is worldwide. Notify the credit card provider if you get no redress from the retailer.

For items paid for using your bank debit card you may be able to use Chargeback. It is a voluntary scheme based on scheme rules set by card issuers such as Mastercard and Visa.

You also have cover when shopping with PayPal. However, 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. This applies therefore to services such as PayPal, Amazon Marketplace, Worldpay and Google Checkout. So you don’t have any credit card cover if you use these kind of services.

Rip Off Britain and shopping online

On the Pop Up segment of Rip Off Britain I heard the case of Kathy, who ordered a dress online but didn’t realise the website was based in, and the product would be delivered  from, China. The dress was not as described and was of poor quality. The company would not refund the postage costs. Their website however does say that “However you need to pay the return shipping fee on your own if there is no quality issue.”

As there was a quality issue I advised Kathy  it would be worth arguing again that it was of poor quality. I suggested sending an email and including a picture from the website alongside a picture of what was received, as evidence, plus a description of the differences between any description of the item and what was actually received. I don’t know whether she did this so I don’t know the outcome.

That’s all she could do. So take care when ordering online!

Rip Off Britain discussing shopping outside of EU

How to spot a non UK website

  • The website only lists prices in US dollars or Euros.
  • Look for terms and conditions of returns.
  • Check for poor English. For example on this website in the “Rip Off Britain” case below was the grammatically incorrect phrase “item have stain”.
  • Search for the return address.
  • A website domain name is not always an indication of where the company is based. For example, a website address ending in .co.uk doesn’t necessarily mean the site is based in the UK.

Look out for the subscription traps

Be aware of the “free” and very cheap trials of subscriptions. Most, if not all, will ask for payment information when you sign up. Set yourself a reminder to cancel a day before the first payment is due.

Check the cancellation rights before signing up to anything but be aware that you may still be able to challenge these in certain circumstances.

Check that the site is genuine. The website address should begin with “https”, have a padlock symbol, a full correspondence address (not a PO box number) and any trade logos should be genuine. Also, search the Internet for reviews and check for warning signs like lots of grammatical errors or a domain name that uses a well-known brand/product but isn’t the official website or ends in .net or .org as these are rarely used for online shopping sites. You can also check who registered the domain via the com website.

What to do if you want to subscribe

If you are going to sign up to a subscription, try and use Direct Debit where possible. With Direct Debit, a company cannot change the regular payment amount unless it give you notice of how and when it will take it. This notice is usually 10 working days. Using a debit card or credit card is known as a Continuous Payment Authority which can be of varying amounts which can be changed without your consent.

When you cancel with the company, also inform your bank to ensure that the subscription payment is cancelled. You will then also be covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee, which ensures a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society if a mistake is made.

If you want to cancel a subscription

If you want to cancel, do so quickly and in writing so you have evidence. If you are prepared to discuss the matter because you want to haggle for example, telephone helpline numbers cannot cost the consumer more than the basic rate, so no 084 and 087 numbers. If companies do use these then they are in breach of the The Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and Ofcom regulations.

When writing to cancel, provide all details of the policy/memberships etc., dates of subscriptions and request that the cancellation is made with immediate effect. Name the laws above and describe how the company is in breach, if relevant.

How to spot fake reviews and find the honest ones

Only really take on board reviews where there are at least 5 entries so you can discount the top and bottom.

If someone is saying that an item has this great part and that superb element but the majority of the reviews say otherwise, be dubious!

Likewise, if someone says they find a product useless or similar and the majority of other reviews are positive, it’s likely to be fake. Not necessarily a paid for review, but a competitor or a troll, many of them exist on the Internet!

Check out the reviewer. Click on the reviewer and their other reviews, see if there are any similar patterns. Are they all 5*? Or all 1*?

If the reviewer has all their reviews hidden that is unusual. If they are leaving bad reviews it could well be a troll or a competitor

Look at dates. Lots in a short amount of time, particularly at point of launch or after lots of low scores.

Someone who undertakes honest reviews for companies such as bloggers will state that they were given the item for free.

Government action against online traps

On 20 June 2021 the Government finally published its consumer paper for consultation. It is titled Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy. This covers subscription traps, Alternative Dispute Resolution, reviews and consumer rights. The closing date for responses was 11.45am on 1 October 2021.

Summary of proposed changes and my response to the consultation.

09/02/22 The CMA  launched a brand-new campaign “The Online Rip-Off Tip-Off” to help shoppers spot and avoid misleading online practices that could result in them being ripped off.

Further help when complaining

If you need help with a purchase bought from within the EU you can contact the European Consumer Centre who should be able to assist you.

Parcel outside door, delivery notirrived? Arrived late? Left and stolen? Your rights to redress

 

Your rights, mail order, online and deliveries for more information and help on problems with deliveries

 

 

 

 

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Categories
Laws

Your rights, mail order, online and deliveries

Who is responsible for what when ordering off premises?

Mail order and online purchases

Your rights when purchasing items through an advert or catalogue are exactly the same as buying from any other retailer, so your correspondence about faulty items would be covered under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. In addition, under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 consumers have 14 days cooling off period for changing their minds. A further 14 days is provided from this date to return the item.

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 you paid extra for speedier delivery and it wasn’t delivered within this time you are entitled to the charge back. If the item is faulty you do not pay return postage and you should receive the full cost of any postage paid for sending the item to you.

Parcel outside door, delivery notirrived? Arrived late? Left and stolen? Your rights to redress

You are also entitled to any out of pocket expenses if the company don’t turn up when they say they will, such as time off work wages if you have to arrange another date for delivery.

Digital purchases

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 provides specific coverage for digital content. Digital content must not be supplied by the retailer within the 14 cooling off period unless the customer has agreed to it and that once the download starts the cancellation right is lost. If the customer does not give consent then s/he will have to wait until after the 14 days before downloading. Having bought the wrong download and realising it before I actually downloaded but before this new law came out I welcome this Act! All I could do was tell them that the Law was changing!

Delivery

The aforementioned Act also states that 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 trader 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.

Of course, deliveries must also be carried out with reasonable skill and care. See my experience with the Body Shop here. I was on the ITV news regarding that story, I gave advice which they cut and Martin Lewis said if we complained more then service would improve. Something that followers of me on  Twitter and read this blog know that I bang on about a lot!

What to do when deliveries don’t reach you useful information if you regularly have problems with post reaching you.

Package delivered but not received?!

What if your plant pot denies signing for your parcel? Well the delivery company won’t have proof of the signature (I assume of course, I may be wrong) and if your parcel isn’t there, say because I don’t know, it’s out in the open on a busy road and it’s a really stupid place to put it, what do you do?

By providing details for a “safe place” you are agreeing to it being safe! If there is a chance that it could be stolen don’t use it as a safe place! Common sense really! It has become your property as the retailer has left the item where you specified. You could possibly try and claim from your insurer.

If however, some fool has put it in a wheelie bin and it is bin collection day and you don’t get the parcel then it has not been delivered with reasonable skill and care and you are entitled to a full refund.

How to complain about deliveries

Mind you, Laura (the presenter) said the carpet was cream. She must have thought the carpet was filthy because it was never cream! It is a dark pinky purple beigey type thing!

To whom do you complain when deliveries go wrong?

I see so much people complaining about the courier company. Unless you paid the courier company direct (extremely unlikely when purchasing items online) your contract is with the retailer. So when a courier company, let’s call it Model, is utterly useless and leaves your package somewhere to be stolen or throws it in the garden breaking the contents, it is the retailer from whom you claim.

Even if they try and fob you off and say contact the courier don’t. The retailer can deal with the courier and perhaps when they’ve had enough complaints they’ll drop the contract and use a better firm. If you have difficulties you can go to the CEO of the company to whom you paid the money and find their contact details from ceoemail.com

Something is wrong with the purchase

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to items that are of satisfactory quality, are as described, last a reasonable length and are free of defects. If your purchase does not meet any one of these requirements then you can return and the trader must pay for the return.

Returns

If you need the retailer to pick up the item because it is bulky, put the request in writing (why it is important to write not phone) provide a deadline for when they can pick it up or you will dispose of the item.

What are your rights when returning items at Christmas?

Template letter for an item not received.

Further protection

Should consumers order an item from an advertisement in a newspaper which is signed up to the Safe Home Ordering Scheme (previously known as the Mail Ordering Protection Scheme) they can get their money back if the trader goes into liquidation or stops trading. Keep a copy of the advert when ordering until the item has been received.

Outside of the EU

You don’t have the protection. See Don’t let shopping online become a “rip off” for more.

Rip Off Britain discussing shopping outside of EU

Contract with the delivery firm

If you use a courier firm to deliver something (e.g. you have sold something on an auction site)  and there is a problem it can be VERY frustrating to contact them and get the matter resolved. Once an item is lost it appears to very rarely appear again!

You should contact the courier to try and locate the item. Do not call. Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively  If the company makes it difficult to do this contact the CEO using  ceoemail.com to get the contact email.

It is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for not providing services with reasonable skill and care and if it has lost an item you are entitled to a full refund. You will at the very least be entitled to a refund of the delivery cost. Whether you are entitled to the cost of the value of the item is unfortunately debateable and may depend on which courier you used, whether you paid for cover and whether your item is exempt from insurance.

Be careful for example when using companies like Parcel2Go which appears to take an insurance payment for items that are not covered. (It is a very long list!) One could consider that this is a breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for being misleading and being an unfair contract. However this has yet to be tested in court and I would be delighted to help anyone try it and set a precedent which could stop this practice!

Unsolicited goods

All you need to know about unsolicited goods have you received them or is it a mistake and you need to return them? Everything you need to know.

Further help with consumer issues

Top 20 Tips How to complain effectively

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