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UK European Consumer Centre

person browsing on a laptop making online purchasesShopping Online

Cross-border shopping is a big business thanks to the internet. Here you can find out what you do when there is a problem with goods or services purchased online.

Your Rights - and what to look out for

The rights provided by European legislation (E-commerce Directive and Consumer Contracts Regulations) are the minimum level of protection you can expect across the EU when purchasing goods or services online.  If the company is based within the EU, there is a certain information they are required to give

"Cooling off" period

You have the right to expect a 14 calendar day cooling-off period in most online transactions, although there are exceptions including purchases for travel and accommodation.  A full list of exemptions acn be found here - Cooling off exemptions.  This 14 calendar day cooling-off period will begin the day after the goods are delivered and means that you can cancel for any reason.

Your cancellation doesn't need to be in writing, but needs to be a clear statement of your wish to cancel, in a durable form.

Unless otherwise stated in the terms and conditions, you will have to pay the return postage costs .

You would expect to receive a refund within 14 days of the request but the company is entitled to deduct money if the goods show signs of unreasonable use.

If you cancel, any ancillary contracts such as warranties or finance are automatically cancelled.

Delivery

When you place an order you are normally given an indication of when the item will be delivered. The goods should be delivered within 30 days of placing the order, unless you have agreed on an alternative delivery date.

Company location

When shopping online it is always important to know information about the company you are purchasing from like their geographical location. 

Just because a website has a .co.uk address does not automatically mean the trader is based in the UK.

Neither does a UK telephone number mean that the company is based in the UK.

When you are browsing a companies website, try looking for their address before completing your order - it may not be in the 'contact us' page.  Try searchng their 'terms and conditions'.  If they are in the EU then they have to provide their address as part of the E-commerce regs.  If the address is difficult to find, ask yourself why? What is the trader trying to hide?

Pre-contract information

When you place an order on a website for goods or services the order finalisation buttons must be labelled with 'obligation to pay' or similar unambiguous words. 

There should be no doubt that you will have to pay something for this order. 

Pre-ticked boxes for confirming you have read the T&C's, payments such as insurance or anything else are illegal.

If you are asked to acknowledge that you have read through and understood the companies terms and conditions - normally by the ticking of a box - don't just tick the box and move on! Make sure you read through them and if there is something you're not happy with or do not understand, seek further advice or clarification.

Consumers must be given details of cancellation rights, return costs, complaints procedures and redress.

This information is intended as guidance only - to get specific advice to your situation please contact us.