More and more people are now shopping online for their Christmas presents, as it is a convenient way to dodge the crowds and get a great bargain, but what exactly are your consumer rights when you shop online? Buying goods online can differ from purchasing on the High Street, but in some cases, you are actually more protected if you buy online, than if you visit a store in person.
So if you have bought something online and want to know what your rights are, regarding refunds and exchanges, check out our guide:
Online stores have up to 30 days to deliver goods, unless they specify otherwise. But if a Christmas delivery is part of the contract, and you have it in writing, such as an email, you may have a case to take to the Small Claims Court, if you cannot resolve it with the retailer. Other goods that arrive after the 30 days can be returned within 7 days for a full refund. These are your rights under normal distance selling regulations.
Deliveries that are affected by the weather could be exempt from refunds if retailers stipulate that in their contracts. Each retailer will have their own set of rules and regulations and where one may say that unforeseen weather conditions can have an impact on deliveries; others may not, so you need to check.
If for whatever reason, you decide to return an item, you have 7 days from the time it arrives to when you send it back. It does not matter if the retailer does not receive the item within 7 days, so long as you can prove it was sent back within these days. So, if you are experiencing adverse weather conditions that may affect your return delivery, your rights will not be affected. You should get a receipt however, from the Post Office to prove the date it was sent back. This is a major difference between buying online and on the High Street, as online stores have to offer a full refund, wherever you have changed your mind or not, whereas retailers on the High Street do not have to give you a full refund; it is up to their own discretion.
High Street vs Online
Regarding all other aspects of purchasing, apart from returning goods within 7 days, you have the same rights whether you buy online or at a retailer. So if the item you have bought is not suitable for the purpose it was intended for, or it is not a good quality, you are entitled to a refund.
Also, if your purchase turns out to be defective within 6 months of you buying it, then it is the retailer that has to prove the fault did not exist when you bought it. You should be able to get a replacement, repair or partial refund in this case. After 6 months, the onus is on you to prove the item was faulty when you bought it.
Not all goods can be returned within 7 days. Personalised gifts, perishables, such as food and flowers cannot be returned and any software where the plastic packaging has been removed.