Nikki McConnell of Worthingtons Solicitors discusses consumer rights in relation to online purchases and explains the various regulations which apply.
With Christmas around the corner, many people will be shopping online for everything from toys and ties to turkeys and tinsel. It can be a quick and easy way to purchase presents, however, there are some issues to be aware of when placing orders online.
If you simply change your mind about the purchase, you have the right to cancel your order within 7 days of receiving the goods, under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling Regulations) 2000. This does not apply to some items such as perishable goods like food or flowers, personalised items or CDs, DVDs or software, if they have been unwrapped.
Most online retailers will have details of their terms and conditions for returning goods on their website and these terms should include whether they will be responsible for the cost of same. If no such terms are included, you have a good argument for asking the retailer to pay them. If the goods are faulty or otherwise not of ‘satisfactory quality’, you have the same rights as you would have when buying from a shop in person, under the Sale of Goods Act. You have the right to obtain a refund of the purchase price paid, including any delivery charges, and should allow the retailer the opportunity to collect the item or refund you the postage charges.
Although placing orders online should be straightforward, it is easy to make a mistake. Under the Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002, online shops must set out the stages you have to go through to complete your order. You must also be afforded the opportunity to check the details of your order before completing same. As soon as the online retainer confirms acceptance of your order, you have a legally binding contact for the purchase of the goods. Happy shopping!
Nikki McConnell is a Partner with Worthingtons Solicitors and is head of the Litigation department in our Newtownards offices. Nikki has considerable experience of representing both Plaintiffs and Defendants in a wide variety of litigous matters, including Public and Employers Liability cases, Road Traffic Accidents and Medical Negligence actions.
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