With more than one in three consumers in Northern Ireland shopping online at least once a month and online spending expected to increase by over 10 per cent each year, it has never been more important to shop online safely and know your rights.
The Consumer Council’s ‘Guide to Shopping Safely Online’ has been updated to reflect changes to the law, which came into effect on 13 June 2014 with the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. The new Regulations give consumers even more protection when shopping online and the guide now includes information on protecting your parcel deliveries, your rights in relation to digital downloads, as well as how to recognise safe shopping websites and protect yourself from scams.
Speaking about online shopping, Philippa McKeown-Brown, Head of Consumer Skills explains: “There are many benefits to online shopping as it allows you to research products, check previous customer feedback and compare prices. We hope our new guide will give consumers more confidence to shop safely online by informing them of their rights, especially with this recent change in consumer law.”
In terms of the new regulations Philippa adds: “Consumers now have more rights than ever before when shopping online. The change in law means you have longer to change your mind and cancel your order and the time for refunds has been cut from 30 to 14 days. Furthermore, traders who offer telephone contact must now offer a basic rate telephone number so no more paying premium rates to resolve a problem or cancel your contract. There’s also a ban on hidden costs so that you can work out the full cost of your order and compare prices from the start.
“For the first time ever, the law gives specific protection for digital content such as downloaded films, music, games, apps and e-books. This includes making consumers aware about product functionality and compatibility with their computer, tablet or smartphone.
“As online shopping grows so has the number of parcel deliveries. Unfortunately, a quarter of online shoppers in Northern Ireland have experienced problems with their parcel deliveries with the most common issue being non-delivery to Northern Ireland, charging more to do so or withdrawal of the free-delivery option. The new regulations will mean delivery restrictions will need to be made clear from the outset and also provide guidance on who bears the cost for delivery, returning unwanted goods and the cancellation of services.”
For anyone who wants to know about their online shopping rights you can download a free copy of the Consumer Council’s ‘Guide to Shopping Safely Online’ via their website - www.consumercouncil.org.uk/publications - or request a copy by contacting 0800 121 6022, Twitter (@ConsumerCouncil) or Facebook (Consumer Council Northern Ireland).
The Consumer Council has also produced a factsheet on the new regulations ‘Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 Factsheet’ which is also available to download free at www.consumercouncil.org.uk or you can request a copy by calling 0800 121 6022.