If you normally feel like you just don’t have enough time to actually go out and buy your Christmas presents why not give online shopping a go this year.
With more than one in ten shoppers based in the UK choosing to shop online this year you might think it is the easy choice, simply search online and sit at home waiting for the goods to arrive, but there are some tips and advice to remember to make your online shopping experience go smoothly.
If you’ve already asked around and know roughly what your friends and family want for Christmas do some research first.
Films, games, books and music can be bought online easily with little fuss. If however your loved one is after clothing and hasn’t shown you the article they want (including the link to buy it) then tread carefully.
You might want to do some actually window shopping first to make sure you chose the right pair of shoes or jumper. Also remember that smaller, more independent online stores may not be able to offer next day delivery and handmade items could take longer to arrive if they are made to order.
You’re searched and hunted around several stores and finally you’ve find the perfect gift at the right price but one thing niggles at the back of your mind. You have not heard of the site before. What can you do to make sure you’re not about to lose your money?
Do some research, check online for reviews of the site and see if there are other consumers that have mentioned them in forums and ask you friends. You can also check sites like www.shopsafe.co.uk which is a directory of online stores that have been checked.
This doesn’t however guarantee that you will receive your goods on time so always check the delivery information before you click buy.
Whenever you are about to handover payment for your online goods make sure you check that the site is secure. Sites that have “https” in front of their address have been independently checked to make sure it is genuine.
You can also download toolbars to help you discover if a site has been verified. Sites that have been verified by third party security sites will also display a seal like the VeriSign Trust Seal or a Thawte Trusted Seal which means they have checked the site has a SSL certificate (which ensures that information such as credit card numbers is encrypted when sent to the site).
If you are making a purchase for an item that cost’s more than £100 it is also worth paying via a credit card as you are covered as a consumer by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
From the Office of Fair Trading:
“Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, in certain circumstances, credit card issuers are jointly liable with suppliers if there is a problem with goods and services bought by credit card if the cash price of an item is between £100 and £30,000 and the total credit value is less than £25,000.”
You can also pay via a third party site if you are not comfortable. Many sites offer payment via Paypal or Google Checkout allowing you to pay without handing over all your details to the retailer.
Whether you buy online or in a store you still have the same rights any consumer has when buying an item. The item is still covered by the Sales of Goods Act which means it must be fit for purpose, as described and is of a satisfactory standard of quality.
For example if you buy a pair of shoes for £60 that are described as genuine leather but when you receive them they are made of a synthetic material you are within your rights to return them.
Anything you buy online comes with a seven day cooling off period in which you can return the goods for a refund without having a reason other than you have changed your mind.
There are some exceptions to this however so make you if you do not remove the security seal from DVD’s, CD’s or computer software as once they are unsealed you cannot return them. You may have to pay the cost of returning the item so always check the retailer terms and conditions before buying something you think you might end up returning.
- Personalised / made to order items (for example
- An engraved item)
- Perishable items such as food or flowers
- Goods or services where the price depends on changes in the financial markets
- Newspapers or magazines
- Goods which, by their nature, cannot be returned.
Be careful when buying a mobile phone online, many providers state that you cannot send the phone back once the phone has had a sim card inserted and calls been made. If the signal is very poor however you may be able to send back under the Sales of Goods Act.
The retailer is also not allowed to charge a restocking or administration fee.
At Christmas time everything starts to become a rush with Christmas Eve being the deadline we all have to meet. Postal services start to strain under the amplified amount of packages and cards leading to increased delivery times. Many retailers may close over the Christmas period or change their standard delivery times so it is worth checking to see if they have in place any special terms during the festive season.
Our rule of thumb is if you are banking on a gift to arrive before Christmas buy it online at least 5-6 working days before the last first class post day. If you gift fails to arrive don’t fret. Print out an IOU letting the recipient know just what you have bought them.
And remember that under the Sale of Goods Act if your item does not arrive within 30 days of the agreed delivery date you are entitled to a full refund within 30 days.
- Shop around for the best price
- Check the retailer’s reputation
- Read the terms and conditions of the sale
- Make sure your payment is secure
- Keep a record of when your order was placed
- Keep all email correspondence
- Check your legal rights if things go wrong