Advice: Know your rights when shopping online

Pat Hutchinson MBE.
Pat Hutchinson MBE.

By Pat Hutchinson MBE, District Manager, Newtownabbey CAB

Whether you’ve started your online Christmas shopping early, or whether you leave it to the last minute, it’s important to know your rights regarding anything you might need to return, as well as items that don’t arrive in time for Christmas.

Festive fever is on its way, with high streets getting busier with shoppers eager to get everything on their lists for friends and family. But we are also a nation of keen online shoppers which allows for a last minute purchase without leaving the house.

Almost half of consumers plan to do their online Christmas shopping with less than a week to go until Christmas Day.

Be wise to your consumer rights when you do your online Christmas shopping.

Here are some vital things to remember when you shop online at Christmas:

• You have the same rights for purchases made online as those bought on the high street.

They include a refund, replacement or repair if the items are not as advertised, nor of satisfactory quality, or not suitable for the purpose for which it is intended.

• For items bought online there is extra protection in the form of a seven-day ‘cooling-off’ period from the date you receive goods bought online.

• There are some exceptions, including if the goods were personalised, perishable, or where CDs, DVDs and computer games are out of their plastic wrapping.

• Make sure you know who pays for returns if the item you buy isn’t right. A website’s terms and conditions should be clear about who is responsible for paying for postage and packing.

• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau or log on to

Call Newtownabbey CAB, Dunanney Centre, Rathcoole on 028 9085 2271 or email