JOE FINANCE: 6 things you should really know before you buy online 3 years ago

JOE FINANCE: 6 things you should really know before you buy online

Christmas is just around the corner, so now is as good of a time as any to get the shopping done.

We'd say there are a fair amount of you guys considering using the interweb for this year's presents.

Understandably too, trekking through the shops in the lead up to Christmas is about as comfortable as filling your jocks with snow.

However, before you whip out that smartphone or hop on the laptop, there are a few things you should know about online shopping.

EU laws give you strong protection when you buy online. The Consumer Rights Directive covers you when you buy from businesses based in the EU but there's a bit more to it than that, so without further ado.

The seller has to supply you with the following...

  • The name of the supplier, including any trading names
  • A description of what you are buying
  • The seller’s postal address and contact details
  • The price, including any taxes
  • The delivery costs
  • The arrangements for payment and delivery
  • Details of how to cancel your order
  • The cost of ordering – for example, the cost of a premium rate phone call if you have to order this way
  • How long the offer or price is valid
  • The minimum length of any contract

This info has to be clear and accurate.

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Your right to change your mind

When you buy online, you are given a cooling-off period of 14 days where you can change your mind and cancel.

This cooling off period ends 14 days after you receive the item. You must also return the item within 14 days from the day you cancelled. In the case of a service, the cooling-off period ends 14 days after you enter into the contract. You may be required to pay for the return of the good.

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When downloading music, books, apps and in game purchases you DO have some rights

When purchasing these items, under the Consumer Rights Directive, you should be told how your purchase will be compatible with hardware and software.

You have the right to cancel an online digital purchase, but only up until the moment the actual download, or streaming, begins.

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Not every retailer is born equal

If you buy something from a business that is based outside the EU, the Consumer Rights Directive does not apply. If something goes wrong with a purchase you make from a website outside the EU, the website's own returns and refunds policy will apply.

So make sure that you have read and understood the site’s returns policy before you buy something.

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Be careful if your buying on an auction site

If you buy something from an individual, either directly or through a website, consumer rights legislation does not apply. Items sold in an online auction where the seller is another consumer are not covered by consumer law.

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If the good is faulty you can return it

If you buy something online and it turns out to be faulty then your consumer rights are the same as if you bought it in a shop.

If you return a faulty item, and your refund is not provided within 14 days and you paid for the goods using a credit or debit card, your card provider may agree to reverse the transaction. This is called a chargeback. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately and give them details of your transaction.

If you bought something from an EU-based website and you have to return the item because it is faulty, the seller has to pay for any return shipping costs.

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This information was supplied by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. For more information on buying online click here.