Earlier this year the CSO released figures from a survey they had taken of Irish online shopping habits in 2019. 51% had purchased clothes online, making clothes the most purchased item online by the Irish public. Holiday Accommodation (47%), Other travel purchases (45%) and Tickets for events (45%) were next on the list of what people in Ireland had purchased online in 2019.

 

In this lockdown period we may see trends move towards items that are more relevant to being at home all the time. Clothes are still necessary, and supermarkets are reporting much higher usage of online grocery shopping with main providers noting “a huge spike” and “a significant increase”.

The other side of the lockdown may see demand for travel related purchases or concert tickets waning as those industries are severely curtailed. Whatever the product or service being purchased however, the important matters of protecting yourself when online and knowing what your rights as a consumer are, remain unchanged.

It is advisable to take steps to protect yourself from potential fraud when shopping online:

  • Ensure the website is genuine and secure (is there a secure https address?)
  • Are you familiar with the company? Do the contact details match the physical address?
  • Did you access the site through their main address or from an unconnected link?
  • Be wary of a site looking for information that doesn’t seem necessary, i.e. date of birth, card PIN
 

Fraud is not the only problem that can arise however. Sometimes there can be a genuine problem with a purchase or you might not like the item once you see it in the flesh. For this reason, online shoppers in the EU are often afforded stronger protection than traditional consumers.

It is important to note however that these protections are generally afforded under EU Consumer Legislation, so if you are purchasing from a site outside the EU/EEA you will need to take careful note of the conditions attached to your purchase.

For purchases from within the EU:

  • You have the right to change your mind. You have a 14-day cooling off period whereby you are entitled to return the goods for a full refund even if they are not faulty.
  • You have the right to a refund for delayed or nondelivery. Purchases should be delivered within 30 days unless otherwise agreed. The consumer may cancel after these 30 days if the delivery within the period was deemed essential or can agree delivery at a future date.
  • You have the right to clear information on the product and supplier before you enter the contract. The seller must provide full product detail and contact information.
  • You have the right to redress for faulty goods. If the product is faulty you have the same rights as if you purchased it in a store
 

The best advice when buying online is to continue to be vigilant with your details and do your research on the seller. If a deal appears too good to be true, read the small print! Protect your personal information and don’t divulge financial information unless you are satisfied with the security of the site you are purchasing from.

If you want further clarification on your consumer rights please call the Legal Advice Helpline which forms part of your legal expenses contract. You can speak with a legal advisor and get clarification on any questions you may have.

For further information on selling legal expenses policies please contact your ARAG account manager.

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.

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