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Dublin, 20th November 2014 – The European Consumer Centre in Ireland is issuing advice on online shopping rights for consumers looking to buy online over the coming month.

As we approach the end of November, many consumers will be planning their Christmas shopping. A significant number may be looking to buy online, with recent research indicating that a majority of consumers consider buying over the internet a cheaper and more convenient option than traditional shopping.

With shoppers expected to spend up to €1.5bn on Christmas this year, it is important that those planning to buy online are aware of their rights so as to minimise the risk of any problems occurring at a busy time of year.

EU legislation provides a comprehensive range of protections for consumers buying online in Europe. Some of the key protections include:

  • The right to change your mind – consumers have the right to a “cooling-off” period which allows them to withdraw from an online purchase within 14 days of receiving the order. The consumer does not have to give a reason for the withdrawal and can seek a refund, although (s)he may be required to cover the cost of returning the item to the seller. Since the entry into force of new EU legislation in June of this year, this right has been extended to digital purchases (such as ebooks and music files). However, the cooling-off period for digital purchases differs slightly in that consumers may only change their mind up to the moment they consent to the beginning of the actual downloading process.

 

  • The right to clear information – traders are obliged to provide full contact details on their website, including a geographical address. This is to help ensure that consumers can contact a trader easily in the event of a problem. Traders must also provide certain key information on the products/services being sold, including its main characteristics, full price including any tax and delivery charges, and information on how to cancel.

 

  • The right to be refunded in the event of delayed or non-delivery of goods – Traders are obliged to deliver an online order within 30 days of the order being placed, except where otherwise agreed with the consumer. If the goods are not delivered during this period, the consumer may request that the trader deliver the goods within an additional period of time appropriate to the circumstances. If the goods remain undelivered after this period has elapsed, the consumer may seek a full refund. However, if delivery during the initial period of time agreed with the trader was essential – such as in the case of a wedding dress – the consumer may seek a refund if the item doesn’t arrive during this initial period.

 

  • The right to redress in the case of faulty or defective goods – Consumers are entitled to receive an item which is in conformity with the contract for sale. Generally, this means the item must be as described, fit for purpose, and in good working order. If the item does not meet these standards, the consumer may seek a repair or replacement from the trader. If this cannot be provided or turns out to be unsatisfactory, the consumer may then seek a full refund.

 

For more tips and advice on shopping online, please contact us on (01) 8797 620.

 

For more information/media queries, please contact Grace Duffy on (01) 8797 641 or at gduffy@eccireland.ie.

ECC Ireland can also be found on Twitter @eccireland.