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UK European Consumer Centre

National Consumer Week 2018 - Online Marketplaces

Do you really know who you are dealing with when you buy goods online? Do you know what your consumer rights are? And who is to blame if things go wrong?

These are all questions we address in our latest You Tube video  to support this year’s National Consumer Week (NCW), running from 26 November to 2 December.

This year’s National Consumer Week focuses on consumer rights when people buy from an online marketplace.  The video includes information on what an online marketplace is, what rights you have and our top tips on purchasing from an online marketplace.
Andy Allen, UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) service director, said: “Purchases from online marketplaces are a big part of everyday life. An online marketplace is a website or platform that enables individuals or businesses to sell goods online. Often the platforms don’t own the goods being sold.

“It’s important for consumers to remember that not only do consumers have fewer rights when they buy from a private seller, compared to if they buy from a business, but their rights are not the same across all online trading platforms. And consumers often don't know that their rights might be different.

“Consumer have no rights they can use against the online marketplace itself, as any purchase made online means that the contract is with the trader and not the marketplace.”

The UK ECC offers these tips for buying from online marketplaces:


Make sure you know who are you buying from

Online marketplaces will often indicate who the goods are being sold by and if so, you can often visit the seller's page. This way you can establish whether or not it is an individual seller or a business.

Who is to blame if things go wrong?

Your consumer rights are with the seller of the goods, not the marketplace itself. The best way of thinking about this is to imagine you’re in an actual marketplace: if you purchase goods from the stallholder, that's who your rights are with; not the owner of the marketplace.

Research for National Consumer Week (by Citizens Advice and Harris Interactive polling) shows that over 50% of customers don’t know they have fewer rights when they buy from a private seller, compared to if they buy from a

business. If you buy from a private seller the principle of “buyer beware” applies. This means while the seller can’t misdescribe the item, they can omit information. For example, if a laptop is described as being a silver laptop in “excellent working condition” but it’s faulty, you could ask for your money back. But if “excellent working condition” is missing from the description, you won’t be able to.

If you need advice or assistance with your online purchase you can contact us on 01268 886690 or email us at

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