Buying on the Internet

Internet shopping is easy and convenient and is one of today's biggest growth industries. It is expected to grow ten fold over the next three years with millions of pounds being exchanged each day. But how safe is the internet and what are the pitfalls if things go wrong? This information may help you to buy with confidence.

Safe Payment

  • If you buy by credit card and the goods fail to arrive or are faulty, the card company should refund you for any item costing over 100.00. In the EU, the card company must refund you if your credit or debit card is used fraudulently.
  • Be aware of the security features on the suppliers web site. Use a company that has an encryption facility which will scramble credit card details when in transit. Sites which display a locked padlock or an unbroken key when the payment screen is selected are the safest.
  • Make sure you know what who you are dealing with. Online, the other party could be anyone, based anywhere. Use sites you know or which have been recommended to you.
  • Watch out for additional charges such as VAT, delivery and packaging. If you are ordering from abroad there may be customs duty and taxes to pay.

Your Consumer Rights

  • Your usual consumer rights apply on line if buying from a UK Company. Goods should be of satisfactory quality, be fit for their purpose and as described.
  • You may also benefit from the protection given under The Distance Selling Regulations 2000 () which give consumers certain rights and protection when they shop for goods or services 'at a distance'.
  • The Regulations say that you must be given clear information so that you can decide whether to buy from the seller. The details must include details about
    • the business name and address
    • the goods and services being sold
    • payment arrangements
    • delivery arrangements (items must be delivered within 30 days unless otherwise agreed
  • In most cases you must also be given a seven-day 'cooling off' period in which you can change your mind and cancel your order, although there are certain exceptions to this rule. For goods, the period starts the day after the goods are received by the consumer. For services, the period starts the day after the contract was concluded.

And finally, watch out for the scams!

There are many scams on the internet - all designed to make you part with your money. Here are some pointers to help you out

  • Beware of traders who, illegally, fail to provide their real location but merely give an email address of PO Box number
  • Be suspicious of anything which seems too good to be true - it probably is! - such as promises of 'instant wealth' or 'guaranteed success'
  • If the words 'This is not a scam' are used, then it probably is!

And remember.............................

Your rights are extremely limited if buying from a private individual. With auctions and private sellers the general rule is buyer beware.

Further advise on this and other consumer issues can be obtained by contacting Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.