National Consumer Week #NCW is a yearly campaign which raises awareness of specific consumer issues. Every year covers a different topic and in previous years, the campaign has promoted awareness of issues such as electrical safety, subscription traps, and consumer rights.
This year’s campaign takes place the week beginning 26 November. We’ll be focussing on online marketplaces and the rights of consumers using them.
FROM FRIDAY 23 NOVEMBER
#NewForest Buyers need to beware as thousands of customers report being ripped off on online marketplaces.
More than 13,000 problems with purchases in England and Wales on online marketplaces were reported to the Citizens Advice consumer service last year.
Online marketplaces – websites where traders and private individuals list and sell products – are becoming increasingly popular for people trying to find the best deal.
As customers turn to online marketplaces in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, #CitizensAdvice #NewForest is warning residents in the New Forest to be aware of the dangers.
This year’s National Consumer Week, which runs from 26 November to 2 December, focuses on customer rights when buying from an online marketplace. #CitizensAdvice #NewForest says people don’t always know they have fewer rights when they buy from a private seller, compared to if they buy from a business.
If you buy from a private seller the principle of “buyer beware” applies. This means while the seller can’t misdescribe the item, they can omit information. For example, if a laptop is described as being a silver laptop in “excellent working condition” but it’s faulty, you could ask for your money back. But if “excellent working condition” is missing from the description, you won’t be able to.
As part of National Consumer Week, #CitizensAdvice #NewForest suggests people check all the product information carefully before buying something on an online marketplace. They also recommend that shoppers take extra care, like reading previous reviews and saving screenshots of their purchases.
Far too many people are being ripped off on online marketplaces. As part of #NCW we want to make sure customers know what to look out for when making a purchase and their rights if something goes wrong.
With millions of people trying to find a bargain online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, buyers need to beware when purchasing off online marketplaces #NCW
To reduce the risk of being left out-of-pocket it’s a good idea to check the product information on these sites carefully before they make a purchase.
Here are the #CitizensAdvice tips for using online marketplaces:
Check the product details
This should include: photos; a description; cost of the item; delivery charges; contact details for the seller; and any cancellation rights. #NCW
It should be clear if it’s being sold by a trader or private seller – this is important as your rights are different. #NCW
It is wise to read previous reviews as these can often flag potential issues, but watch out for fake reviews. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. #NCW
Take screenshots of the item you want to buy
This will come in handy if the item you receive is different to what you saw on the website. #NCW
Use a payment method that protects you
You’ll have a better chance of getting your money back if there’s a problem by using a card or Paypal, particularly if it’s an overseas seller. Avoid paying by bank transfer. #NCW
Go back to the seller if there’s a problem
Explain what’s happened, how you’d like them to fix it and give a deadline for them to respond. If they don’t sort it out, see if there’s an alternative dispute resolution service that can help. Report them and the online marketplace to Trading Standards if you think the issue is unfair. #NCW
Getting your money back from a private seller
The product description needs to be accurate, but if information is missing you won’t be able to ask for your money back. #NCW
If the item doesn’t match the photos on the website, you may also have grounds to ask for your money back. #NCW
Know your online marketplace rights
With Christmas around the corner make sure you know your rights when buying from individuals online
Online marketplaces – websites where traders and private individuals list and sell products – can be a great place to find a bargain. With Christmas just a month away, many people will be using them to buy a wide range of gifts or sell unwanted items.
But sometimes, things don’t always go to plan. No one wants to spend the run up to the festive season chasing an undelivered purchase or trying to fix a faulty product. That’s why this year’s National Consumer Week is focusing on helping you find out what your consumer rights are, and what you can do if something goes wrong.
Know your rights
If you’re buying something from an online trader, someone who sells the goods as part of their business or profession, then your rights are the same as if you were buying it from any other online store.
• You normally have up to 14 days after receiving your goods to change your mind and get a full refund. There are exceptions though, for example if the item was personalised or made to order.
• If there is a problem with your item within the first 30 days from when you bought it, you could get a refund, replacement or repair.
• If it can’t be repaired or replaced then, during the first 6 months in most cases, you are entitled to a full refund.
If you’re buying online from an individual seller, your rights are different and the principle of ‘buyer beware’ applies.
• Goods have to be how they were described to you by the seller, but the seller doesn’t have to disclose any faults.
• The seller can’t misrepresent goods though – for example claiming something used is brand new.
What to do if something goes wrong
There are steps you can take if something goes wrong, for example if the item you have bought arrives damaged due to poor packaging. In this case you should take photos straight away to prove it was damaged on delivery.
Whatever the problem though, it’s best to contact the seller first to try to resolve the issue. You should also check the online marketplace’s terms and conditions, which will sometimes offer you extra protections. They may have their own protection and dispute resolution systems.
Some traders belong to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme, which means they offer a way to solve your problem without going to court. You can also consider making a claim to the court – sometimes known as a ‘small claim’. Making a small claim is also an option if you purchased the good from a private seller.
If you paid by card or PayPal, your card provider might be able to help. The Financial Ombudsman Service can help if the problem’s not sorted out by your card provider.
If you’re selling something online
If you have sold something on an online marketplace, make sure you buy the right postage. If the buyer claims the package has not arrived you will be responsible for providing a refund or replacement unless you have proof the item was successfully delivered, such as a tracking number or customer signature. Proof of posting the item is not sufficient.
Make sure you cover the value of the item you’re posting, so if it gets lost in transit you’re not out of pocket. It can be worth comparing different mail providers. Your insurance may be invalid if the good was packaged improperly or if the good is restricted, prohibited or exempt from any compensation offer, so check the terms and conditions before you buy.
Get more help
Contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506 It’s open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and provides advice on consumer issues. You can also visit us online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer.