Online Shopping Issues

Online shopping has become a lifeline for a lot of people due to the restrictions we’ve experienced this year, and with Christmas quickly approaching, it’s expected that online marketplaces will see a higher virtual footfall than ever before.

Whilst normal December frustrations might involve having to fight against crowds of other shoppers or disappointment when a much coveted gift is out of stock, this year will definitely look a little different. Higher reliance on online orders coupled with staff shortages and disrupted business operations means frustrations this year may take the form of delivery delays and disappointment at incorrect or faulty goods arriving.

With that in mind, Fife Council’s Trading Standards Team are encouraging consumers to shop early where possible, and to familiarise themselves with their consumer rights in case things don’t turn up as or when expected.

Changed your mind?

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 allow consumers 14 days after receiving their delivery to notify the seller if they want to return an item, and if so, another 14 days to return the item unopened. Once the retailer receives the goods, a refund (including the delivery charge) should be issued within 14 days. If items haven’t been received within 30 days, consumers are legally entitled to cancel the order and receive a full refund.

Things haven’t turned up as/when expected?

If an order doesn’t turn up, it may be assumed that the issue lies with the courier, however as per the Consumer Rights Act, consumers contract with the retailer, not the courier, and therefore any complaints should be raised with them.

If an order arrives with incorrect items, consumers have a right to replacement, and should contact the retailer as soon as possible following delivery. Consumers should not have to pay to return the incorrect items.

Big ticket items

If purchasing a big ticket item of over £100 (but less than £30,000), using a credit card will give additional protection - even if it’s paid off immediately. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 makes the card provider jointly liable, meaning that if something goes wrong, there’s an additional route of recourse.

Know who you’re buying from 

Finally, if that much longed for games console or must have toy is sold out everywhere, but online searching finds it on an unknown website or for a heavily discounted price, consumers should take a minute to consider the purchase and ensure they are using a secure website. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, these things are too good to be true.

Dawn Adamson, Fife Council Trading Standards’ Service Manager, said:

“Christmas is looking different for everyone this year, and with more consumers relying on online shopping to do their gift or food shopping, it’s important everyone familiarises themselves with their consumer rights. Consumers should pay particular attention to researching their rights, and should take additional steps to protect themselves wherever possible to avoid disappointment.”

If you have faced delays or your items haven’t turned up as expected, you can contact Advice Direct Scotland for advice at consumeradvice.scot or on 0808 164 6000.