Online shopping, which was launched in 1991 originally for commercial use only, has become very common and popular now-a-days amongst consumers. Statistics show that in 2003, six percent of total sales were made online and the rate has continued to increase every year since. But buying online always has some risks involved. What are those risks? What can a consumer do if they do not get what they asked for? What rights do they have?
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Consumer Rights: Online Shopping
The rights of a consumer while shopping online are similar to when they are buying directly from a shop, the only difference is that when shopping online the shop is shown on a computer with an internet connection. However, one must have a bank account which allows them to make the payments online. The consumers’ rights state that any item purchased must be of an acceptable quality and not defective (unless specified otherwise).
A retailer, when selling online, must provide proper information of the goods to allow the consumer to have an idea of the condition of the goods. If the delivered product does not match the description, the buyer's right entitles him to ask for their money back immediately.
Consumers are also allowed to receive full refunds in certain other circumstances. Buyers can cancel their order within a given grace period for any reason and receive a full refund. If the ordered goods do not arrive before the specified date, the retailer must also offer a full refund. If no date was specified, the consumer can again demand a refund if the goods do not arrive within 30 days.
Complaint: Online Shopping
Sometimes things can go wrong while making an online transaction. In cases like these, the consumer can file a complaint with either the retailer or the bank.
The consumer should make contact with the seller, providing them with product and transaction information and the reason for their complaint, thereby allowing them the opportunity to set things right. At this point, the consumers are advised to keep a copy of various references of their product and transaction id.
If things are still not resolved a consumer can take it to the next level by contacting Consumer Direct (www.consumerdirect.gov.uk). A complaint can be made by either calling, writing, or even by contacting the trade association, to whom the retailer belongs, to solve the matter.
Finally, if nothing works, going to the courts is also an option, but that should be the last resort. In most cases, only the mention to the retailer about taking legal action is enough to persuade them to solve the problem. If not then court it is.
Overseas: Online Shopping
Things sometimes get very complicated when buying from overseas. In such cases, the basic complaint process is the same. However, when nothing works out and the court seems to be the only option, suing the retailer overseas, especially if outside the EU can be very difficult, costly, and time-consuming. If the retailer is from a different country they may be following a different set of laws and rights so these matters would require more help.
Online shopping always involves some risk. So, make sure you read the terms and conditions properly and are fully aware of your rights before making a transaction.