Most people now are aware that they can shop online abroad as easily as at home. And with many international online stores offering pretty much global delivery, what do you need to know to make sure that your transaction is safe. It’s all too easy to click and regret later.
The new EU Consumer Contracts Regulations came into effect in the EU from June 2014 and replaced the previous Distance Selling Regulations.
Many rules for basic online shopping are the same:
1. Make sure that a physical address and telephone contact number are shown on the website you’re considering purchasing from.
2. Keep a file for all of your online orders – a folder within your email maybe – so that you know what you’re waiting for and exactly what you bought from whom. This should include any services such as gym memberships.
3. Make sure you know what the cancellation/returns terms are for the retailer you’re buying from.
4. Return any unwanted item as soon as you possibly can, but always within 7 days.
5. Check on any shipping and likely duties that may apply and make sure you’ve factored them into your purchase cost.
6. Use a credit card for payment – you have more protection, and will be backed up by your credit card company in the case of a dispute.
7. Cooling off Period – you have 14 days (EU) to decide if you want to cancel an order or service unless you have used the goods or commenced the service and there is no fault to either.
8. There should be a standard cancellation form available on the suppliers website although you are not obliged to use this.
9. You should receive a refund within 14 days of your goods being received back by the retailer.
10. Retailers are responsible for making sure that goods are as they are stated on their website when they arrive with you. Even if the normal refund time has run out, you have up to six months to insist on repair or replacement of faulty goods.
Note that consumer rights may differ from country to country – for example, in the US the cooling off period is 3 days, not 14 as it is in the EU, so never assume, always make sure you know the individual retailers terms and conditions, and also the distance selling laws of the country you are buying from.
Information on consumer shopping across the EU
Buying from an overseas seller outside Europe
Shopping online in the USA
Revenue and Customs - Importing from abroad