The face of retail has changed so much over the past couple of decades. Where we once would have had to visit the high street in our town, now we can request personalised details on products delivered from half way round the world. Of course, the shift to online shopping brings it’s own risks and problems.
The European Commission recently conducted a study on 500 online retailers. They found that approximately two thirds of those surveyed did not fully comply with consumer rights. One aspect of viable Consumer Rights is that when making an online purchase, consumers have the right to clear, accurate, and comprehensible information on delivery terms, withdrawal rights, and on the legal guarantee in case of product flaws. Over a quarter of sites did not provide this.
What rights should I be concerned about?
– A fifth of sites didn’t follow rules about geo-blocking. This allows people to purchase products even if a company doesn’t deliver to their country of residence. This is provided that they can receive a delivery in another viable country.
– Almost 45% of websites didn’t provide a clear link to a dispute resolution; required by EU law.
– On approximately a fifth of websites, the pricing shown did not include additional costs like postage or shipping fees.
– Over a third of the sites didn’t tell customers that they had a legal right of two years minimum to repair, replace or refund products in case the goods are defective at the point of delivery.
From this point, there will be in-depth investigations by the relevant national authorities. After then, those sites found to still be lacking will have a period of time to make amendments or they will face fines or other punitive actions.
So what are the regulations?
There are a host of protections for online customers to safeguard their rights.
– Right to redress in case of faulty goods – You have the same rights as if you were buying an item in a store. Any fault within six months are presumed to have been present upon delivery. The seller may be liable for up to 2 years, but the consumer may be asked to prove fault after the initial six month period.
– The right to a refund for slow or non-delivery – Unless otherwise agreed, your product should arrive within 30 days after purchase. If not delivered within that time-frame, the seller can try to negotiate a new arrival date, but if they fail once again, the consumer is entitled to a full refund within 14 days of cancelling the contract. This is also true if delivery within 30 days was essential.
– The right to clear information – As addressed earlier in this article, letting people know their rights and also how that seller or company operates in terms of policy is essential. People have to be supplied with a host of information like the right to cancel the contract, the full price with a breakdown of the costs, the method of delivery and much more.
– The right to change your mind – When shopping online, you have a 14-day cooling off period during which you can return the goods received. No reason needs to be given, but you must take care of the return delivery cost. Some purchases are exempt from this protection.
You can find all of this information out and more here.