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

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What to do when ripped off by a hotel

Hi

If you came here from my appearance on Rip Off Britain talking about how to complain to hotels. Here’s some advice and useful links

  1. Complain at the time. This is important because there is an onus on the consumer to be reasonable as well as the trader. If the matter were to go further you will need to show that you provided the trader an opportunity to put matters right.Ask to see the manager
  2. Get evidence. Take photos, details of names of people you complained to, dates and times and any evidence you can use at a later date if you need to do so.
  3. Consumer Rights Act 2015. Know your legal rights. The key things regarding hotels here are:
    You are entitled to services to be carried out with reasonable skill and care. So if your room isn’t up to scratch or the service you receive is poor then you are entitled to redress. The percentage you should expect will depend on the level of service and how quickly they put matters right.
    The place you stay must match the description. So if the brochure/website said the room will have xyz then xyz must be in the room in good working order.
  4. The ultimate guide to complaining when eating out provides detailed information on how to complain in restaurants and cafes etc.
  5. Complain at a later date. If you feel that you didn’t get redress at the time or you were unable to complain in the time then do complain when you get home. This may be to the manager or if a chain go higher. Use ceoemail.com to find the contact details for any CEO.
  6. Complain effectively! See Top 20 Tips How to complain! for guidance on writing the perfect email/letter
  7. Complain even if hotel not in UK! All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights provides links to a variety of posts discussing how to prevent problems, successful complaints, your rights when booking and after your holiday etc.

The rest of the site provides advice, guidance, information and your rights on a wide range of issues and sectors. For more of this including templates see the Amazon bestseller How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!