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Are online shops delivering the goods?

We may be in lockdown but as a nation we’re still doing a lot of shopping. Online, of course! Most of the time that goes smoothly and we get what we ordered on the day we expect it, but sometimes things go wrong.

boxes on shelves

Figures released today from research undertaken by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) reveal that almost half (47%) of British consumers have had a parcel delivery issue since the first lockdown in March 2020.

The figures show:

  • 96% of people say they’ve ordered an item for delivery since March.
  • The biggest problem consumers face is late delivery, with almost one in three people (30%) across the country facing a delay.
  • Nearly one in five people (18%) who experience a parcel issue also suffered some sort of financial loss, with 40% of those losing over £20.

The CAB’s Consumer Service has received three times as many calls about delivery issues since March compared to the same period last year.

National Consumer Week starts today and the theme is online shopping and your rights.

So what are your rights when shopping off premises?

  • 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 2013consumers 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 a refund of the additional charge. 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.
  • You are also entitled to any out of pocket expenses if the company don’t turn up when they say they will, such as wages for time off work if you have to arrange another date for delivery.
  • The Consumer Rights Act 2015 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 for the item and delivery costs.
  • Deliveries must also be carried out with reasonable skill and care. So, if anything is damaged during the delivery, including on your property, you are entitled to redress.
  • Has a parcel gone missing from the doorstep or your neighbour? By providing details for a “safe place” you are agreeing to it being safe! If there is a chance that it could be stolen then don’t use it as a safe place! This is common sense really! Once the retailer has left the item where you specified then it has become your property. You could possibly try and claim from your insurer. If you did not say the item could be left anywhere then a photo of the item on your door step is not proof that it was delivered. If, for example, 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.
  • Unless you paid the courier company direct (extremely unlikely when purchasing items online) then 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 always the retailer from whom you claim. Even if they try and fob you offand 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 from com
  • 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, telling them that otherwise you will dispose of the item.

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

For more help, advice, tips, information and templates buy  How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

 

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The top 10 tips for winning in the sales

So, Christmas nearly upon on us and Boxing Day sales start. Making sure you know how to get the best deals, use your time wisely and knowing what to do when things go wrong will all help you grab the best bargains.

1) Plan what you want. Make a list of things you would quite like to buy. Don’t fall foul of the pack mentality that we often see on Black Friday. People fighting to grab the “bargains” and then saying “I didn’t even want a telly”.  It is not a bargain if you don’t really want it.

2) Make a list of the various stores you are likely to find those bargains. If you are going out to shop work out the best route to do to save you the most time and allows you to return to shops which you think you are most likely to want to return back having seen other stores.

3) Do your online research. Using your list, look up all the stores likely to have sales, mooch around the sites making a note of things that you would like if they were in the sale. Even put them in your basket so they are in there ready before other people if you intend to start at 12.00am on Boxing Day!

4) Think about next Christmas and presents that you will need to buy. Things like jewellery, toys, games and toiletries are always discounted everywhere and don’t have a best before date!

5) When shopping online use your list of items and compare prices. Just because it is discounted it does not mean that it is the best price. Use comparison websites too, or simply put the item into Google and see all the places the item is also sold.

6) When purchasing items online you now have 14 days in which you can change your mind and return the item under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013  if the item is faulty the retailer has to pay for return postage. If you just change your mind then it will be down to the retailer’s Terms and Conditions which will be listed on the website.

7) Watch out for delivery costs. These might make the items less of a bargain compared with another site. Some of the bigger more well known stores will offer free delivery for orders over a certain amount. Simply order something else to reach the free delivery amount, such as a gift you can put away or something you know you will need in the future and bingo, free delivery. Or use the “free delivery to store” option, you’ll still get to the bargains in time but should have a few days grace in which to pick up the item(s).

8) Whether purchasing items in the sale or not, if you return an item because you changed your mind or it is an unwanted gift then the retailer does not need to refund the item. (Many of the bigger retailers will, however usually by voucher and at the cheapest price the item has been sold at). However if the item is faulty, unless the fault was pointed out at point of purchase (e.g. this jumper is discounted because of a mark on the sleeve) then you are entitled to refund, replacement or repair. See here for more details.

9) You do not need to have a receipt but you do need a proof of purchase so a credit card bill for example is fine if you are returning goods.

10) If the retailer does not keep to delivery deadlines then you are entitled to redress.

Good luck in your bargain hunting and don’t be fobbed off when complaining! Lots of tips around the blog and of course in the book!

PS Don’t forget to use a cashback site when shopping online. The best I have found is Topcashback.

*refer a friend