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

The Complaining Cow follows up on her Rip Off Britain advice

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

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. 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.

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 thirdparty 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

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!

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

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.

Your Rights, Mail Order, Online and Deliveries

Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively

Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

For advice, information, consumer rights, stories and template letters….

GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

Your Rights, Mail Order, Online and Deliveries

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. 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!

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 date 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.

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 Model, 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 here.

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.

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.

Further help

Top 20 Tips How to complain effectively

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

 

If you need more help, information and tips with how to quote Acts, template letters and advice on how to complain effectively don’t forget the GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

Also more free tips here and on the Youtube channel.

To keep up to date with consumer news and The Complaining Cow sign up to the newsletter.