If you’re looking for a trendy, vintage or designer furniture at a fraction of the cost, do your research first …
Transactions involving furniture typically involve large sums of money and so, when things go wrong, consumers can be left significantly out of pocket. There are also longer delivery times which can mean that consumers can no longer avail of the chargeback schemes provided by their bank or credit/debit card provider. Many complaints also relate to unfair contract terms, unfair commercial practices, and the failure of traders to comply with the consumer’s right of withdrawal.
Here are some tips on what to do and what to look out for when shopping for furniture online:
Prior to ordering
- Read the terms and conditions and ask yourself the following questions: What is the delivery time? Are there any delivery charges? How do I exercise my right to withdraw/cooling off period once I do not buy custom-made products? (If the items you have ordered are custom-made there is no right to withdraw or cooling off period). What if the product is not in conformity with the contract – is there information about my rights?
- Beware of counterfeit goods: If the price is so low that it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be vigilant and check if the item you want to purchase is subject to copyright; if the item infringes copyright there is a risk that the furniture could be confiscated by customs and destroyed and/or you could be issued with a fine.
- Make sure you can get in touch with the seller: Under EU legislation traders should provide full contact details including phone number, email, and geographical address. Do not hesitate to make contact in advance and check the seller out.
- Do your research: Know who you are dealing with. Research the website to see where it is based (do not rely on domain address) and check when it was registered (using ‘whois lookup domain’ online search). Check online forums and other channels for reviews to see if other consumers have encountered difficulties.
- Remain vigilant and act quickly if something doesn’t feel right
- If you encounter problems such as additional delivery charges, the product is not delivered on time, the delivery date is postponed, refusal of your right to withdraw from the contract, or if the seller doesn’t answer your communications anymore, then you need to act quickly.
- Send a letter/email formally requesting the seller to deliver in a reasonable time and outlining your rights under the Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU).
- You may also contact your bank or credit card provider to see if you can avail of chargeback.
If the trader is based in another EU country and you continue to have difficulties then you can contact ECC Ireland for free information and advice.
If the trader is based in Ireland then consumers can contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) for advice.