What are your consumer rights when shopping online?

24 November 2022

Consumers today hardly think twice when completing a purchase online. With so many products at the tip of your fingers, and suppliers offering competitive deals and next-day delivery, it’s no wonder why shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are incredibly popular with online shoppers.

Despite the convenience and accessibility of online shopping, things don’t always go to plan. Deliveries can become delayed, the item may not look or function as expected, or you could just change your mind about a product. In this case, knowing your rights as a consumer is crucial.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, specific regulations determine when you are entitled to cancel an order or request a refund or replacement. If you face difficulties upholding these rights, contacting a solicitor is always best. Redkite Solicitors have the knowledge and experience to protect your consumer rights.

What are your consumer rights?

The Consumer Rights Act came into force in 2015 to protect consumers’ interests and ensure they can purchase confidently. The law covers what should happen when goods are faulty, when a service does not match the description, or the terms of a contract between buyer and seller are unfair.

Should a business fail to abide by the regulations within the consumer rights act, specific actions should be taken to protect the consumer’s interests. Initially, companies are given the opportunity to correct their errors. Whether this is by providing a full refund or offering a replacement for a faulty or damaged product, if this opportunity is not taken by the seller, the customer could be entitled to compensation.

In most cases, alternative dispute resolution will guide consumers and businesses to an amicable and fair solution for their disagreement. A solicitor is highly valuable during this process as companies are typically equipped to tackle such disruptions.

Is there more protection shopping online than in-store?

There are plenty of reasons consumers spend their money online rather than in a brick-and-mortar store. For one, the items are at the tip of their fingers. No travelling is required to purchase an item. Mobile sites enable consumers to make purchases on the go and from the comfort of their own homes. Retailers often release their deals at midnight for shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. By shopping online, consumers can take advantage of some cracking deals in the comfort of their homes.

In addition to the benefit of convenience, shoppers are also entitled to more rights when shopping online. Under the Distance Selling Regulations, online retailers are required to follow several rules that must be followed before and after a purchase. These include making it clear that customers are paying for an order, displaying the price and delivery cost, taking reasonable steps to correct errors within an order, providing contact details, giving as much information about a product as possible, and more.

Cancelling an online order

There are plenty of reasons a customer may want to cancel an order after purchase. This could be due to a change in financial circumstances, finding a more appropriate alternative, or simply changing their mind after making an impulse purchase from an inviting Black Friday deal. Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, this decision is protected, allowing consumers to cancel their orders within a ‘cool-off’ period.

From the moment an order is placed, customers have the right to cancel up to 14 days after the item has been delivered. Typically, if an order is in transit, you won’t be able to cancel the item as it is in the hands of the courier. However, your right to return the item continues to be protected, allowing you to make a return within 14 days of receiving the goods.

Businesses shouldn’t make cancelling an order unnecessarily tricky. Typically, the option should be accessible from the point of sale.

I want to return something that I bought online.

When buying an item online, your purchase decision has been made based on a photo or brief description of an item. If when the item arrives, it isn’t quite what you expected, your rights are extended to allow a return to be made.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, customers are entitled to make online returns for any reason, including simply changing their minds. There is a legal minimum of 14 days in which you can make a return. However, some traders may extend this within their own returns policy. Be cautious and read the terms and conditions of the return policy, as additional requirements may be attached to the return.

Whilst the Consumer Contracts Regulations provide the right to return unwanted items; certain products are not protected. This can include CDs, DVDs or software that have had their seal broken. This is because the content could have been copied before being returned. Additionally, your rights aren’t protected when returning perishable items, custom-made pieces, or items with a seal for health and safety purposes. Before making a purchase, it is vital to consider the terms and conditions of all products to establish whether or not a return is possible and protected by your rights.

Paying to return items

Whilst you may have the right to return items within 14 days of the purchase, this does not always guarantee that the initial delivery cost will be refunded or that you won’t have to pay to have the item returned by post.

Many retailers provide free postage labels, but this should always be confirmed within their returns T’s & C’s. Additionally, it is always recommended that you receive proof of purchase, no matter whether you have utilised a free return or paid for the postage yourself. This ensures that you have evidence that you returned the goods should the items not be returned to the seller.

Items ordered outside of the UK that are faulty, incorrect or being refused a refund

When purchasing goods from outside the UK, consumers’ rights remain protected when shopping online. Under EU rules, the company must repair, replace or provide a refund for any items that do not appear or work as advertised or are faulty. The right is protected under a 2-year minimum guarantee, during which you can contact the supplier at no extra cost.

Final Thoughts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the two busiest days for online shopping. While some great deals are available, keeping your wits about you is always important. Before making any purchases, you should always ensure that you are purchasing from a trusted seller. This way, you shouldn’t have to worry about your consumer rights. However, evaluating the delivery period, the returns policy, and terms and conditions is always good practice. This will help you stay aware of the store’s policy in relation to the consumer rights explained above.

If you have purchased an item and have been unable to receive a refund or replacement for a faulty item, you could be entitled to make a claim against the supplier. To carry out this process, you will require the services of a qualified solicitor who can expertly protect your consumer rights. Here at Redkite Solicitors, we are well-equipped to help clients retrieve compensation for faulty products and false descriptions from online sellers. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.