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Planning Retirement Online



 Your consumer rights when buying online


February 2018

consumer rights

Hasn’t shopping changed since we were youngsters? In our childhood shopping was so easy, you went into a store, were usually greeted by a friendly shop assistant, and came out with the items nicely packed in a bag.

Now you push a button and things come by special delivery vans; or you scan things as you go through the store rather than go through a traditional check out. Shop assistants are becoming a rare breed and intuitive and personalised shopping is coming in, when retailers will pre-empt what you want with on line visuals and even high street window displays geared towards your buying habits as you walk past.

When things went wrong, in the “good old days” you simply took them back to the shop, had a chat and more often than not came away gripping a full cash refund.

Today things are a tad more complicated.

Items that don’t arrive
What if goods you have ordered on line simply don’t arrive; of as has happened, have been delivered to a neighbour who then denies any knowledge of it? Electronic signatures on those tiny little machines delivery people thrust at you are hardly recognizable when they are genuine, so a dishonest neighbour can easily deny the signature.

An online seller has a legal responsibility to make sure the ordered goods are delivered to the buyer; the seller can’t deny any interest saying it was successfully delivered to the courier company or organisation.

This is an interesting piece of legislation within the Consumer Rights Act  that may be changed or develop in the future, but at the moment if you don’t receive your item within 30 days, or alternatively by a date agreed by the seller, then you will be due for a refund or a replacement.  

Goods that arrive too late
Timing of delivery is another area, especially if the items you ordered are for a specific occasion. If the goods arrive too late, the only way you will be able to get a refund is if it was made clear at the point of the transaction that the goods had to arrive by a specific time.

Most online forms can be vague about this unless you tick express delivery or a delivery date box. However, if the date was made clear at the time of order and the items don’t arrive then you again can claim a full refund.

Returning unwanted items
If you have ordered something and then for various reasons decide it is not what you want, you actually have a right to cancel the order as long as you do so within 14 days after the goods were delivered. This needs to be done in writing (email is fine) and many larger companies offer cancellation forms. You don’t need a cancellation code to return an item within the 14 day period.
Once you have notified the seller you wish to cancel the order, then you have a further 14 days to cancel it. Here you need to allow for delays in the return system and also ensure you have proof of posting for your returns.

Within this regulation, there are some items which are exempt. For instance items that have been personalised or made to a specific style or design; goods where the seal has been broken such as DVDs, printer ink, health and personal products and so on. The sellers also have rights to protect them against anyone ordering perhaps garments to be worn for one night and then returned; anything that is not clearly in a pristine and unused condition can alter the rights of the buyer.

When  a company collapses before the goods are despatched
It isn’t common, but assuming you have bought online through a credit card, then your card provider will be able to protect any cash loss from £100 up to £30,000. If you have bought through another system such as a debit card or PayPal, then you will need to check the specific conditions as these can vary.

For more information on all consumer rights, visit


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