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.