Shopping From Home

If you buy goods or services over the internet, on TV, by telephone or from a catalogue, newspaper or magazine advertisement from a seller in the United Kingdom, you have rights that protect you.

What the law says

If you buy goods or services over the internet, on TV, by telephone or from a catalogue, newspaper or magazine advertisement from a seller in the United Kingdom, you have the same rights in accordance with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 that applies to goods and services bought from shops or other local suppliers.

In brief, goods must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose, and services must be carried out with reasonable care and skill. For more information see our Buying Goods and Buying Services sections.

In addition, the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) mean that you must be:

  • Informed of your cancellation rights before the purchase is complete;
  • Given specific information about any digital download such as music, e-book or app, including details of functionality and operating system requirements;
  • Provided with a link to a cancellation form that you can choose to fill out;
  • Be made aware of your ‘obligation to pay’ when shopping online so you cannot be ‘duped’ into paying for ‘free trials’ or subscriptions; and
  • Be made aware of delivery restrictions at the beginning of shopping process, e.g. online companies not delivering to Northern Ireland.

For more information on your rights when buying from home, please see The Consumer Council’s Guide to Shopping Safely Online or telephone to request your free copy on 0800 121 6022.

Tips for Shopping Safely Online

  • Protect your device from viruses and online security threats. For a simple explanation of what you need, visit www.getsafeonline.org
  • You have added protection paying by credit card for single items costing between £100 - £30,000. The Consumer Credit Act 1974 (Section 75) means if goods fail to arrive, the trader goes out of business, or the goods are not as describes, not of satisfactory quality or are not fit for purpose, the credit card issuer must help get your money back.
  • Before you enter any payment details on the website, check the website address displayed in the browser bar starts with https. The ‘s’ stands for secure and it indicates your personal and payment details will be kept safe. A padlock icon will also often appear in the browser bar, which should also give you confidence.
  • Research a website or web retailer before using them for the first time. Check independent reviews or previous customer’s feedback.
  • Check that the web retailer has a genuine postal address, and that they are based where they claim to be.  Also ensure they have contact details is something goes wrong with your order.
  • If you see a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for scams, copycat websites and weblinks that take you away from a trusted website.

What to do if you have a complaint

There are no special ways of making a complaint about something you’ve bought on the internet. Try first to get the seller to put things right. If that doesn’t work, contact any trade association which the trader belongs to. If that fails, you may have to consider taking court action. For amounts involving not more than £3,000, you may be able to take your case yourself to the Small Claims Court. Talk to Consumerline on 0300 123 6262, before applying to your local court. For larger amounts, you should talk to a solicitor.

Online auction sites

Auction websites such as eBay are popular but there are things you might want to do to protect your purchases:

  • Start by reading the auction site rules and the safety advice they provide;
  • Perhaps practice on some low price purchases first, such as books or DVDs;
  • Check the seller’s feedback to see how happy other buyers were with the standard of goods and delivery before you buy from them;
  • Remember, if you buy from a ‘trader’ (who makes their living from regularly selling goods) you have the same rights as buying from a shop. However if you buy from a private individual then providing the goods arrive ‘as described’ there is little legal comeback;
  • Do not let anyone trick you into giving your account username, password or personal details; and
  • Keep a record or printout of any order placed, the terms and conditions and the seller’s contact details.

For further information about your rights contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262