As consumers start to hit the high streets and shop online for Christmas, the Consumer Council is calling on the public to be ‘Savvy Shoppers’ in the run up to the big day, to avoid overspending and the common pitfalls of hidden costs.
The call is being issued in response to findings that 42% of consumers do not know what their rights are when buying goods. With 92% of consumers shopping online with retailers, the importance of knowing your rights about things such as delivery costs and returns is increasingly important.
The Consumer Council provides free, independent support and advice for all consumers and businesses in Northern Ireland. Their mission is to protect and empower consumers, investigating complaints on their behalf about energy, water, transport and postal services as well as researching local consumer issues.
The Consumer Council wants to highlight consumer rights on some of the most common issues surrounding online shopping, deliveries, cancellations and returns. Top tips includes:
- Don’t blame the post man – The seller is responsible for goods until delivery and the condition they arrive in. Contact them directly with your issue.
- Time is of the essence, so keep an eye on it – You can cancel an order if the item arrives late or up to 14 days after delivery, with some exceptions.
- Always check the returns policy – Returns policies vary from retailer to retailer, including time, additional charges and packaging. You aren’t automatically entitled to a refund from a high street retailer.
- Leave it how you got it – Items must be returned in their original condition with tags and hygiene wrapping within the return timeframe in order to get a refund.
- Once you commit, that’s it – You cannot cancel orders for customised goods and perishable items.
- When it’s a No for NI – Online retailers that do not sell to Northern Ireland must make this restriction visible before consumers place an order, so it’s important that you check the delivery information before buying.
Michael Legg, Head of Postal Services at the Consumer Council, said: “Over the next few weeks there will be a huge increase in the number of items bought online. This is a time of year where many of us may overspend, and with so many other pressures on household budgets at the moment, it is important that we all make smart decisions so we don’t spend beyond our means.
“Over the Christmas and New Year period, the Consumer Council helpline provides advice and information to people who get in contact about their rights on purchases. There are lots of things that we can all watch out for when shopping online so we aren’t caught by hidden charges, delivery delays and costs, and strict return policies. Taking time to do some research and plan ahead rather than impulsively shopping is the savvy thing to do.
If you do face issues, you can contact the Consumer Council for support and information on FREEPHONE 0800 121 6022 by emailing contact@
To find out more about the Consumer Council’s Savvy Shopper tips visit www.consumercouncil.org.uk or follow them on social media @ConsumerCouncil.