Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

RE­CENTLY bought a dress on­line in a sale. It doesn’t fit and the re­tailer is re­fus­ing to take it back. She has ar­gued that she ap­plies the same pol­icy in her shop as on­line and has of­fered me a credit note. Is this le­gal? Geral­dine, Rath­new, Co Wick­low THE Con­sumer Rights Di­rec­tive gives on­line shop­pers strong rights when they buy from a busi­ness based in the EU. When you shop on­line, you are buy­ing from a dis­tance and so, un­like in a shop where you can see the dress be­fore you buy it, when you buy on­line and it ar­rives, it may not be what you thought, or you may not be happy with the qual­ity or the fit. These rights al­low you to ex­am­ine what you have bought, see if you are happy with it, and if not, re­turn it.

These rights don’t change be­cause some­thing is on sale. If you or­dered the dress from a web­site based in the EU and once it is not cus­tom-made for you, you can re­turn it as you have the right to can­cel. This right to can­cel lasts from the mo­ment you place your or­der — up to 14 days af­ter you re­ceive it. It is dif­fer­ent to shop­ping in store where the re­tailer doesn’t have to take an item back if you change your mind — al­though many do as a ges­ture of good­will.

When you or­dered the dress, the re­tailer should have told you that you have a right to can­cel and out­lined its process for how to can­cel — such as by giv­ing you a can­cel­la­tion form to fill out or an email ad­dress to can­cel. If you’re un­sure, check its re­turns process, which is usu­ally out­lined in the re­turns pol­icy. Then can­cel your or­der, re­mind­ing the busi­ness of its obli­ga­tions un­der the Con­sumer Rights Di­rec­tive — and ask for a full re­fund. If it still re­fuses to give you a re­fund af­ter you have re­turned the dress, you can re­quest a charge­back (a re­ver­sal of the trans­ac­tion on your debit or credit card) from your bank or card provider.

As you are can­celling be­cause the item doesn’t fit (rather than it be­ing dam­aged), you may have to pay for the cost of re­turn­ing it so check the firm’s terms and con­di­tions. If the con­di­tions don’t state who pays for re­turns, the busi­ness must pay. It must also re­fund you any stan­dard de­liv­ery costs you paid to have the item de­liv­ered. WHEN you book a pack­age hol­i­day, you are pro­tected un­der the Pack­age Hol­i­days and Travel Trade Act 1995. The travel agent must pro­vide you with ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion in its brochure and other doc­u­ments given to you when you book the hol­i­day. This in­for­ma­tion gen­er­ally in­cludes what hap­pens if you need to can­cel your hol­i­day. As a next step, check the terms and con­di­tions of your hol­i­day doc­u­ments for de­tails on what hap­pens if you can­cel. As you would have agreed to these con­di­tions when you booked the hol­i­day, you have very lim­ited op­tions if the terms say de­posits are non-re­fund­able.

How­ever, if you feel the com­pany’s ac­tions are at odds with its terms and con­di­tions, you can send a for­mal writ­ten com­plaint to it out­lin­ing your cir­cum­stances and its can­cel­la­tion pol­icy, and how you would like to see it re­solved. If you can­not re­solve your is­sue with the com­pany, you could con­tact the Small Claims Reg­is­trar in your lo­cal Dis­trict Court to check if it will ac­cept your case in the Small Claims pro­ce­dure.

An­other op­tion, if you have travel in­surance, is to con­tact your provider and see if you can make a claim. Ev­ery in­surance pol­icy has dif­fer­ent terms and con­di­tions so you will need to ask your provider if you are cov­ered. Check the ex­cess (the por­tion of the claim not cov­ered by your in­surance) on your pol­icy be­fore you make a claim.

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