We all love a bargain and many Northern Ireland Consumers will have taken advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. Others may still be bargain hunting or desperately searching online for that popular, in-demand Christmas present that has sold out in many stores.
The Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service is advising consumers to know their rights when buying online and to take extra precautions when buying goods from an online marketplace or social media platform.
This advice comes as part of National Consumer Week – a nationwide campaign which highlights key online markets issues faced by consumers and how to seek redress.
Consumerline, which is part of the Trading Standards Service, regularly receives complaints from consumers about faulty, misdescribed, or counterfeit goods that have been bought online, as well as delays with delivery or goods not arriving at all. In the past 12 months an average of 100 consumers per month sought advice from Consumerline about online purchases, with at least 10% of these relating to goods bought through social media channels.
Sharon Muldoon, from the Trading Standards Service, said: “When consumers buy goods online from a trader, the goods must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose as required of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. If there is a problem with the item consumers could be entitled to a refund, replacement or repair within the first 30 days from when they made their purchase. A refund can be claimed for up to six months from purchase if the goods can’t be repaired or replaced. As well as this, consumers will normally have up to 14 days after receiving their goods to change their mind and get a refund.
“However, when buying from a private seller consumers should be aware that their rights are different. Consumers taking advantage of deals on online marketplaces such as Amazon, Gumtree or eBay, or on social media, need to be careful. Goods must be as described, but this is the only requirement and consumers may encounter practical difficulties in gaining redress if things go wrong. Sellers may also be overseas. Counterfeiters and scammers find the internet irresistible so ensure that you do your research and remain extra vigilant.”
Trading Standards Service advises consumers to take care when buying online and remember:
- Always check reviews and feedback on sellers. Never rely on reviews from one website;
- Check the seller has a UK contact address and not just a domain name;
- Check the seller’s terms and conditions, including cancellation rights and any dispute resolution systems;
- Always pay by card or another secure method such as PayPal, never by money transfer;
- If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
Consumers who have bought faulty or misdescribed items online or have ordered goods which have not been delivered should contact Consumerline on 0300 1236262 or alternatively log onto the Consumerline website at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/consumerline for further advice.
Notes to editors:
- National Consumer Week takes place from 26 November - 2 December
- For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.