Online shopping is convenient, less time consuming, and offers a wide variety of products and services. When shopping online it is easier to compare prices and find the best deals.
Despite these advantages, there are risks associated with online shopping and to best safeguard your financial interests you should be aware of your legal rights and responsibilities.
The following rights apply to sales transactions made with local online sellers and also with sellers operating from an EU Member State.
Online shopping is regulated by the Consumer Rights Regulations. You may download these Regulations by clicking here.
3.1 The right to cancel the sale
When you purchase goods or services online you are legally entitled to a cooling-off period of 14 days. During this period of time, you can change your mind, cancel the sale and claim back any money paid.
3.1.1 How to cancel a sale
The best way to cancel an online sale is by filling in the withdrawal form provided by the seller at the time of purchase or follow the cancellation procedures provided by the trader. Alternatively, you may simply write to the seller and inform the seller about your intention to cancel the sale.
3.1.2 Returning unwanted goods
Unwanted goods must be returned back to the seller within 14 days from the date you inform the seller that you no longer want the goods purchased.
Before returning unwanted items check whether the seller has provided any instructions on how you should return the goods.
You are not legally obliged to return goods in their original packaging but must take all necessary precautions so goods do not get damaged on their way to the seller. If goods get damaged you may have to pay for these damages.
The cost of returning unwanted goods is to be paid by you, the consumer. However, you have to be informed about these costs in the terms and conditions of the sale. If you are not informed then these costs have to be paid by the seller. In case of goods that cannot be returned by post, such as bulky goods, the seller must inform you of the actual cost of returning these goods.
The trader is obliged to issue a refund within 14 days from the day you inform the trader that you want to cancel the sale. However, unless the trader has offered to collect the goods himself, the trader may withhold payment until he has received the goods back or until you supply evidence of having sent back the goods.
3.1.3 Right of withdrawal exceptions
Some purchases are not covered by the cooling-off period. These exceptions include the following:
goods made to the consumers’ specifications or clearly personalised;
goods which are liable to deteriorate or expire rapidly;
sealed goods which were unsealed by consumers and are not suitable for return due to health protection or hygiene reasons;
services that have already begun, with the consumer’s agreement, before the end of the cooling-off period;
gaming and lottery services;
the supply of digital content which is not supplied on a tangible medium if the performance has begun with the consumer’s express consent;
contracts concluded at a public auction;
the provision of accommodation, transport of goods, car rental services, catering or services related to leisure activities if the contract provides for a specific date or period of performance.
3.2 The right to clear information
Online sellers must provide you with detailed information on themselves and the purchase you are about to conclude.
The trader must give you the following specific information in a clear manner:
a clear description of the main characteristics of the goods or service;
the name and address of the seller;
the total price of the goods or services, including taxes and any additional charges, and also how payment is to be made;
the method of payment and by when the goods will be delivered. In case of services, when these will be performed;
the duration of the contract and the conditions for terminating the contract if it is of unlimited duration or for longer than one year;
the right of withdrawal if it is applicable to the sale being concluded;
a reminder of the existence of a legal guarantee of conformity for goods;
any guarantees and after-sales services that are available.
3.3 Delivery problems
Goods ordered online must be delivered by the date specified in the contract of sale. If this date is not honoured by the seller you can cancel the order and claim a full refund of any money paid.
If no delivery date is specified in the sales agreement, then the statutory time limit is 30 days from the date the goods were ordered. If during this period of time the goods are not delivered to you, then you may request that the delivery is done by a specific date. If the trader fails to deliver the goods within this additional period of time, you can cancel the contract of sale.
You are also entitled to cancel the sales contract if the seller informs you that he cannot or will not deliver the goods.
3.4 The right to redress
If the product that you purchased online turns out to be faulty or not as described before the sale was concluded, you have the same legal rights as when you buy goods personally from a shop. Hence, you would be entitled to claim a legal remedy, which may be either repair or replacement, or else part or full refund of the money paid.
The online seller like any other seller remains liable to the consumer for any faults that become apparent within two years of purchase.
3.4.1 Defective goods
The goods you as a consumer purchase must be as described by the trader, fit for purpose and must show the quality and performance which are normal in goods of the same type.
When this is not the case you may claim a free of charge remedy from the trader. The time limit to claim a remedy is two years from the date of delivery of the product purchased.
When a good develops a fault you may request the seller to provide you with a free of charge repair. When opted for, a repair should be carried out within a reasonable period of time and without causing you a significant inconvenience! The period of the guarantee will be suspended for the period of time the trader takes to bring the goods back into conformity with the contract of sale.
Replacement of non-conforming or defective goods may be opted for when goods cannot be repaired or if the repair would cause you a significant inconvenience.
When a product is replaced free of charge the two-year protection does not start over again but continues from the original date of purchase.
A part or full refund of the money paid for the product may be claimed when repair or replacement of the product is either not possible or if opted for will cause you a significant inconvenience.
You are not entitled to request a full refund where the lack of conformity is only minor or insignificant.