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Returning Goods Online? Know Your Rights

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the imposed lockdowns, have seen a huge boom in online shopping. With Christmas over and many sales upon us, not to mention another national lockdown in place, we’ve put together this handy blog to guide you through returning online goods.

What are your rights?

COVID-19 has altered our lives in so many ways, especially the way that we shop. From Amazon to Etsy and all the high street retailers we love, for most of us online shopping is a smooth, hassle-free experience, but what if things go wrong?

When you buy goods online from a trader, the goods must be of acceptable quality and last for a reasonable length of time. This means ‘as they were described’ and ‘fit for purpose’. When online shopping you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act for 2015, which is the framework for how you should be treated by the seller when you buy their products and/or services. The act also covers returns, refunds and defective goods. Consumers are also covered by the Consumer Contacts Regulations 2013.

Your rights put simply…

  • If there is an issue with the item you purchased you could be entitled to a refund, replacement or for the item to be fixed.
  • There is a legal right to a refund within 30 days of receiving goods if the goods are faulty. This stands regardless of what a store’s policy may state.
  • You can claim a refund up to six months from the purchase if the goods can’t be fixed or swapped.
  • In addition, you will usually have up to 14 days after delivery of the goods to change your mind and get your money back. However, some goods may be excluded such as software, DVDs or CDs if the seal has been broken.

NB. It’s important to know that a lot of retailers have an ‘extended returns period’ due to the pandemic. When purchasing goods make sure you check the refunds section before hitting the buy now button.

Shopping on Amazon

Often seen as the ‘go to’ shopping platform, Amazon can seem overwhelming when trying to get help with an issue or make a complaint. It’s important to note that the above-mentioned rights should apply when buying from Amazon, however there could be some exceptions (such as personalised or perishable goods), so it’s always wise to double check before you buy the item. Specific information on how to return an ordered item or a gift bought on Amazon.co.uk can be found here.

Issue not resolved? Our sister site BogusBuster has handy information on how to deal with different scenarios that could arise when shopping on Amazon. Check out the tips here.

Etsy, eBay and other sites

Sites like Etsy and eBay sell a mixture of new and used goods so it’s always important to check the returns policy before buying. If buying a new item, you should be covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 rights we have mentioned, however if buying a ‘Brand New Item in Box’, such as an unwanted gift, your rights may not stand. Many sellers may have an individual returns policy, such as the buyer might have to pay for return postage, so do check the fine print. Additionally, the seller could also be located overseas so this can add many practical issues to returning an item. On these sites there are many ‘made to order items’ perhaps even personalised goods and consumable items which again may have restricted returns. BogusBuster has a wealth of information to navigate your way around returns and issues on Etsy, eBay and other sites.

Returning goods from Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and others

Unlike buying from a retailer selling online or using a platform such as Amazon, if you are buying used or nearly new goods from a private seller online you have no legal rights relating to the quality of goods and the goods must only be as described.

You may get lucky with an understanding seller but often the logistics of returning an item may not be worth the hassle. ‘Buyer Beware’ is our advice when purchasing via this method. To find out more about reporting an issue on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree check out BogusBuster.

Other issues that might pop up….

Facebook Sponsored Ads

If you’re a regular on social media, you will be familiar with sponsored ads popping up for all kinds of weird and wonderful products. The links on these sites will take you to an independent website so it’s wise to be careful before buying or even better send the link to the BogusBuster’s handy URL checker if you’re unsure. Always check the returns policy before buying and ensure you are buying goods from an SSL protected website – look for the padlock icon in the browser bar.

Counterfeit products

If you receive goods that you suspect are counterfeit, ensure you report this immediately. It is never wise to take a chance with these items which can bring huge safety risks. Every selling platform should have a mechanism to manage counterfeit products or intellectual property issues and should take these matters seriously.

We recommend raising the issue with the seller directly, take photos of the packaging and keep all paperwork associated with the purchase. SnapDragon works relentlessly with brand owners to remove counterfeit and copycat products from selling platforms across the world using our Swoop software, we know only too well the pain and damage counterfeits cause.

Refund on postage or delivery fees

This may vary depending on the situation, usually if you have changed your mind about your order then you will have to pay for the return of the item. Sometimes retailers will include free return labels or charge for these at the time of purchase. If the item is faulty you should not have to pay for the delivery costs to return the item and in some cases the seller may arrange for the pick-up. Once the item has been returned to the seller under the Consumer Rights Act you should receive your refund including the initial postage costs within 14 days.

NB. Always contact the retailer immediately of your intent to return the item or if there is an issue within 14 days. If you have to cover the costs to return the item keep any proof of postage as well as copies of any correspondence.

Protect yourself

Wherever possible always pay for your goods using a credit card, debit card or PayPal Goods and Services. You will not be covered by any PayPal buyer protection if you pay for goods using Friends and Families. Using these methods brings you extra protection should your goods not arrive or if there is an issue with the goods.

Stay safe when online shopping and remember our friendly SnapDragon team are here to help.


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