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.
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
1) Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, consumers have 14 days cooling off period for changing their minds. 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 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
Your rights with deliveries:
More resources for complaining effectively
How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!
The bestseller. Tips, advice, consumer laws, information, stories and template letters. All you need to write that perfect letter of complaint!