Are you shopping for presents online?

National Consumer Week this year, which is running until 2 December, is focusing on shopping through online marketplaces. The campaign is led by Citizens Advice Scotland and Trading Standards Scotland. It is hoped that focusing consumers’ minds during the festive shopping period will help them to avoid any problems. 

Online marketplaces

An online marketplace is a website where traders and private individuals sell products, for example Amazon or eBay.

Online shopping is now a routine way to shop for many of us. Figures show  a £154bn spend in the UK online in 2016, and 76% of people using online marketplaces. Used car and mobile phone sales account for the largest portion of people with problems after online shopping. The main issues consumers report are being sold faulty or defective goods, substandard service from the seller, or a failure or delay in the delivery of goods.

Top tips when buying from an online marketplace:

  • Read the description carefully, especially if it's second-hand.
  • Check the images of the item you're buying to help you spot fake goods - does the image look genuine or copied from somewhere else?
  • Read the marketplace's terms and conditions - what's their complaints handling process?
  • Check the reviews and ratings for a seller and their items.
  • Check how much postage is and if you have to pay for returns.
  • Use a payment method that protects you.
  • You’ll have a better chance of getting your money back if there’s a problem if you've used a card or Paypal, particularly if it’s an overseas seller. Avoid paying by bank transfer.

What are my rights?

  • If you are buying goods from an online trader, your rights are the same as if you were buying from any other online store.
  • You normally have up to 14 days after receiving the goods to change your mind and get a full refund.
  • If there’s a problem with the item within the first 30 days from when you bought it, you can get a refund, replacement or repair.
  • If it can’t be repaired or replaced, then during the first 6 months, in most cases, you are entitled to a full refund.

What can I do if something goes wrong?

  • Contact the seller directly to try to resolve the issue.
  • Check the online marketplace’s terms and conditions. They may have their own protection and dispute resolution schemes.
  • Some traders belong to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme, which means they offer a way to solve the problem without going to court.
  • If you bought from a private seller, consider making a claim to the court - this is sometimes called a ‘small claim’.

Shop wisely

Cllr Russell Imrie, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards said: "There are millions of online shoppers in the UK. It is important that consumers shop wisely and are aware of their rights when using online marketplaces."

More information:

  • Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline at 03454 04 05 06
27 Nov 2018