Do you know your rights if you buy something online or by mail order? There’s lots of confusion about what your rights are, but you have good protection in law. Find out your rights if you’re shopping online.
Your rights if you’re shopping online
Normally when you go shopping, you don’t have an automatic right to take something back just because you don’t like it. But if you’re shopping online or by mail order catalogue, it’s different:
- You have a 14-day cooling off period. If you buy something from home you can cancel your order at any time up to 14 calendar days from the day after the order arrives as long as you buy from retailers based within the UK or EU. The goods don’t have to be damaged or faulty, you can send them back purely because you’ve changed your mind or because they weren’t what you were expecting.
SAVVY TIP: The 14-day right to cancel period doesn’t apply if you bought something that was customised or made especially for you, if you bought fresh food or if it’s something like a DVD or CD that you’ve taken out of its packaging. It also doesn’t apply to online auctions.
- You may lose the cooling off period in some situations. If you agree to the service starting straightaway you may lose your right to the 14-day cooling off period.
SAVVY TIP: If you’re buying a financial service (such as insurance) there are different cooling off periods. And if you’re ordering a service online, you have up to 90 days in which to cancel if you’ve not been given all the information you should have been provided with by law (such as your right to cancel, physical address etc).
- You may have to pay the return postage. If you’re sending something back because it’s not suitable or you don’t like it, you may have to pay postal costs. If that’s the case, the retailer should spell this out clearly on the website. If it doesn’t, it has to pay the return costs.
Delivery dates – your rights
Many online retailers promise to deliver your goods within a certain time period, but it’s not necessarily the same as a guarantee. It all depends on what information was in the contract.
- By law, there’s a maximum 30-day delivery deadline. Retailers are obliged to send you the goods within 30 days, unless there’s a different deadline set out in their terms and conditions or you’ve agreed to a different delivery date.
SAVVY TIP: When you’re ordering, check what information you’re given about when the items will be delivered. If you’re given the information as part of your contract, the company should deliver by the date stated.
- It’s the retailer’s responsibility to make sure goods arrive – not the delivery company’s. If something goes missing, the retailer should replace it. However, if you specify that an item should be left in a safe place (such as behind the bins or a side gate) and it goes missing, that’s your responsibility because the delivery company has done its job.
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