Shop online to make sure you can get your money back

5 min Read Published: 17 Nov 2014

Shop online to make sure you can get your money back you purchase items in a shop they are not obliged to give you your money back unless the goods are faulty.

Online purchases, however, are covered by different rules under the Consumer Contract Regulations which provide the purchaser with additional rights to return goods.

If you purchase a wrong sized item of clothing in a shop they are not obliged to give you a refund, if the item is not faulty. But if you had bought the item online, even if it's from the same retailer, they HAVE to give you your money back even though it is not faulty. In fact, when shopping online you have more rights than if you shop in-store, as I explain below.

What are my rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulation?

The Consumer Contracts Regulation replaced the Distance Selling Regulations in June 2014 and cover purchases made online or away from a trader's premises (e.g. at home or a place of work).

Goods purchased online

  • can be returned for any reason within 14 days of receipt and a full refund must be given by the supplier
  • once the 14 day period has expired the supplier must receive the goods back within 14 days
  • you should get a full refund within 14 days of the supplier receiving the returned goods or the purchaser supplying evidence of having returned the goods (proof of postage receipt)
  • a deduction can be made if the value of the goods has been reduced due to excessive handling (or wearing!)
  • the supplier must refund the basic delivery cost, if express delivery was requested then only basic delivery costs will be refunded
  • CDs, DVDs or software if the packing seal has been broken, perishable goods, tailor-made or personalised items are exempt
  • suppliers may increase the 14 day period so always check the terms and conditions prior to purchase

Services purchased online

  • any service purchased can be cancelled within 14 days from the purchase date
  • if you start using the service within the 14 day period then the supplier has the right to charge for any period of usage
  • if the service is provided in full within the 14 day period then cancellation rights can be lost
  • there are no legal rights to cancel hotel bookings, flights, car hire, concert/event tickets or where urgent repair or maintenance has been carried out
  • suppliers may increase the 14 day period so always check the terms and conditions prior to purchase

Digital downloads

The Consumers Contracts Regulation contains specific conditions covering digital content

  • suppliers must not provide the digital content within the 14 day period unless the purchaser has agreed to waive their cancellation rights
  • therefore consumers must acknowledge that once the download starts they will lose their right to cancel
  • it is important to make sure the software meets your requirements prior to purchase

What rights do I have if I purchase goods in a shop?

Goods purchased in a shop are covered under the Sale of Goods Act which give you the following rights.

All goods must be:

  • as described
  • of satisfactory condition
  • fit for purpose

If any of the above are breached the purchaser will be entitled to a full refund.

Many stores will have their own refund policy which must at least comply with the terms of the Sale of Goods Act. Often stores will provide a longer period to return any goods and may refund your money or provide a credit note for future purchases. Yet a number of stores only provide credit notes for in store purchases/returns but legally have to provide full refunds for purchases online (Reiss is a good example of this). So bear this in mind before you hand over your money in-store.

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