man in brown long sleeve sweater and black pants sitting on brown sofa chair using laptop

With Black Friday behind us, online retailers will be focusing all the more on the big push to Christmas over the next few weeks. We’re now told not to venture out to work unless you really have to, but still, Shop Local. In a landscape of such confusion, you might find these top tips helpful when shopping online whatever the time of year.

i. What are you buying?

If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Read the product description. Then reread it. If you know what it is you are really buying, disputes may be less likely.  

ii. Where are you buying?

Don’t share your payment details over public WiFi networks. They are inherently insecure. Shop from the comfort, and security, of home (or the office).  

iii. Who are you buying from?

Check out online review sites to get an idea of other customers’ experiences. 

Look for the padlock in the address bar. This indicates the website has a valid SSL certificate in place. That said, be wary of phishing

iv. When are you buying?

Check the small print – will it be delivered in time for Christmas?

v. How are you paying?

When shopping online, pay by credit card. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1975 holds the credit card provider and the vendor equally liable when things go wrong on purchases over £100.  

Your card issuer may also offer double protection with chargeback. Visa, Mastercard and Amex do. If your purchases are damaged, not as described or don’t arrive at all, get in touch with your card provider to get your money back.  

vi. What should you do when your shopping is delivered?

If the delivery driver asks for a signature, mark it with: “Received but Not Inspected” – this will counter any argument that you have “accepted” them.

vii. What should you do if your shopping isn’t delivered?

Revisit #5 and, ultimately, take it up with your credit card provider.

viii. What should you do if your shopping isn’t what you expected?

Revisit #1. The product must be as described. If it is now, have a look at #11.

ix. What is meant by “satisfactory quality”?

This is covered by Section 9 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The goods should be of a standard that could be reasonably expected and as described having regard to #1 and the price you are paying.  

x. What is ‘reasonable’?

What you take to be reasonable and what the vendor takes this to mean may not always be the same thing. The Consumer Rights Act stipulates that services be provided with reasonable care and skill. If something needs to be put right, this should be within a reasonable time. This isn’t, however, defined. Do a bit of research and find out what the norm is in your circumstances. 

xi. What is the Returns Policy?

Check the vendor’s website. Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, there is a 14-day timeframe for returns and refunds. If your goods aren’t up to scratch, return them: sooner rather than later. 

xii. Oh, and have a Happy Christmas!

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