In recent years shopping habits have changed. We have seen the decline of traditional high street shopping and a rise in online purchases. In the UK, around one fifth of total retail sales are made online.
With Christmas fast approaching, many shoppers will choose to shun the hustle and bustle of busy stores in favour of purchasing their loved ones Christmas gifts at the click of a button from the comfort of their own home. But without the ability to see and inspect your chosen gifts in person, what protections are in place for online consumers?
There are two main pieces of legislation which provide protection for purchases made online: The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002.
Purchases made online have the protection of a 14 days minimum “cooling-off” period. This entitles a consumer to return goods and receive a full refund if you decide you no longer want them. You are also entitled to a refund of the cost of standard delivery. The 14 days starts the day after the goods are received. There are exceptions, which includes items that deteriorate quickly such as flowers or food, or items which have been custom-made or personalised.
Sellers are required to provide a clear and thorough description of products, as well as details on the business should a consumer need to contact them. A consumer must be given an accurate figure of the total cost, which should include any extra fees such as postage and packaging, to which the consumer must explicitly agree.
Once a purchase has been made a consumer must be provided with details of how to easily cancel their order, including providing a model cancellation form. Consumers should be provided with information on where to return the goods, who should pay the return postage, and any guarantees that may apply.
Similar to goods bought in store, online-bought items which arrive faulty can be returned for a full refund as well as the cost of standard delivery within 30 days of receiving them.
Our advice would be to ensure you properly read the terms and conditions, particularly the seller’s policy on returns, before you make any purchase. Even with the best intentions, photographs do not always live up to the real-life product. But here’s hoping the festive season lives up to the expectation.
Should a dispute occur, please contact us and we can provide the best advice on how to resolve your dispute.