28 December 2016
By Tom Collins
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has said it is important to remind people that they are protected under EU law if anything goes wrong with online purchases they may have made when buying Christmas presents or shopping in the post-Christmas sales.
“EU laws are there to protect consumers when you buy online. The Consumer Rights Directive covers you when you buy from businesses based in the EU, so it is important that people check the address of any business that they are buying from.
“You should receive the goods no later than 30 days from the date of purchase unless an alternative date has been agreed between you and the business. When you buy online, you are given a cooling-off period of 14 days. This means you have the right to cancel an order or contract for any reason within this specified period. If you buy a product online, the cooling off period ends 14 days after you receive it. In the case of a contract for a service, the cooling-off period ends 14 days after you conclude the contract, for example, when you agree to the contract or give your credit card details.
“If you buy something through distance selling (online, over the phone, from a mail order catalogue or a TV shopping channel) and it turns out to be faulty then your consumer rights are the same as if you bought it in a shop.
“If what you bought is damaged or faulty you should complain to the online business in writing immediately, by email, fax or letter, and ask for a refund or replacement. If you bought something from an EU-based website and you have to return the item because it is faulty, the seller has to pay for any return shipping costs.
“For any disputes, you can settle these in an easy, inexpensive way through the European Commission’s online portal at https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr/. You can also phone, email or write to the European Consumer Centre Ireland, and there is more information on their website at http://www.eccireland.ie.
“Online shopping represents a great opportunity for both Irish businesses and consumers. Online sales are growing, and growing fast, with Irish consumers expected to double the amount spent online to E14.1 billion over the coming years. People should know that they have rights if things go wrong.