Tips for online shopping
■ Make sure the site has a real world address, and not just a web presence. The trader is legally obliged to give a full name, address and contact details. An email address or a contact form is not good enough. If you can’t find these details, this may be a untrustworthy site. Use your instincts.
■ It’s a good idea to shop from sites based in the EU. That way, you’ll enjoy the extra layer of protection EU legislation gives. Note too if a web address ends in ‘. ie’, it doesn’t mean the website is based in Ireland. Check the postal address.
■ ECC Ireland is calling on consumers to think first before hitting the ‘ purchase’ button. If you see something that you like while swiping on your mobile then great , but maybe hold off until you get home and have the time to fully examine what you’re buying or agreeing to.
■ The usual ‘shop around’ advice applies. Use a shopbot like megashopbot.com to find the cheapest deals out there. You tell it what you want and i t zips around a range of online retailers, then returns with a list of prices.
■ Know the full price, including shipping and taxes, before you conclude the deal. Some UK sites charge exorbitant shipping fees that cancel out any price advantage. In the same vein, if the goods are priced in Sterling, Dollars or another currency, the rate that will be applied is the rate that will be used by your credit card company, not the one you Google. Note too banks and credit card firms mostly give you a poor conversion rate.
■ When using your credit card online, make sure the site is secure. On a secure connection, the start of the retailer’s internet address will change from ‘ http’ to ‘https’ before it gets to the page where you input your credit card details. There should also be a padlock symbol on the top left corner of the web- page. Click on this to ensure the retailer has an encryption certificate. This is a tool for making sure your personal information is sent safely.
■ Never send cash or use a money wiring service to pay for goods because you’ll have no recourse if something goes wrong. Also, keep a record of your transaction and check your credit card statement after you make your purchase to ensure no additional fee was charged to your card.
■ Check the purchase as soon as it arrives, and if there’s a problem, quickly get in touch with the trader straight away and let them know. Tell the seller in writing about any problems you have, ask for a repair or refund, and keep a copy of your correspondence. The good news is any faults that become apparent within six months of the goods being delivered are presumed to have existed at the time of delivery.
■ Know your rights. If you’re buying goods or services online, you’re covered by the Distance Selling Directive, which places a number of obligations on the seller. He has to provide you with his contact details, information on taxes, charges, delivery costs, any guarantees and after sales services…The list goes on and on. Note too that when you buy online within the EU, there’s now a 14 day cooling off period during which you can return the goods or withdraw from the service without having to give any reason and without incurring any penalty,