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Get a bargain not a rip off says leading e-commerce lawyer

 

Article date:  18/01/2010

  

A leading e-commerce lawyer has produced a simple guide for shoppers looking to bag online bargains in the post-Christmas January sales.

                                             

Jane Rudge, a lawyer at Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons says as online retail sales increase year on year, some simple common sense advice will help shoppers get the bargain they are searching for.

"More and more of us are turning to the internet for sales shopping, away from the crowds and in the comfort of our own homes.  Year on year the IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) statistics show growth in e-retail, so to get the best out of sales shopping on line, there are a few simple pointers for shoppers."

  • There is detailed European legislation governing the sale of goods of services on line. This is designed to give you, the consumer, reasonable protection
  • On line traders must give you certain information as to who they are and where they are as well as a description of the different technical steps you must follow to conclude a contract
  • Make sure telephone numbers and addresses are given and that they actually exist. A simple way of doing this is to call the telephone number with a general query or cross reference your seller in an internet search engine
  • As with all contracts that are made without a face to face meeting your seller must inform you (amongst other things) that you have the right to cancel your contract for any reason during a seven day cooling off period (other than in exceptional cases such as perishable goods). If your new fleece jacket looks amazingly full and fluffy in an airbrushed glossy image but is disappointingly threadbare in the flesh you can return it. You may have to pay for the cost of returning the goods yourself
  • As well as European consumer rights your basic consumer rights under the UK Sale of Goods Act also apply and they say any goods you purchase:-
  • ­ Must be of satisfactory quality, bearing in mind the price and whether they are subject to excessive use. In other words an expensive item should last longer than a cheaper one;
  • ­ Should correspond with their description e.g. "waterproof".
  • Check any specific warranty or guarantee that your seller may be offering in respect of goods over and above these two basic rights. It is a lot easier to return goods within a guarantee or warranty period than to have to prove that when they break down in month 13 that this is due to a fault present in the goods when you purchased them
  • Even though the country's current financial problems are being blamed on excessive use of credit, there may be benefits to the use of credit cards in internet shopping. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act says that if you have a claim against the seller for breach of contract or misrepresentation you will generally have an equal claim against the card issuer. So at least if you are unable to trace your seller you will have a right of recompense. If your claim is turned down at first you must be insistent and if you are still coming up against a brick wall talk to a solicitor for further advice

Jane says: "As with any shopping if it looks too good to be true it probably is.  Use your noodle - for example if the concert venue staging an event is sold out of tickets why are tickets available from other retailers?  At least two solicitors in my department have been caught out in this way - including me!

"If the internet is still all too much for you, you can of course use it for window shopping and brace yourself for one marathon trip to the shops armed with a list of goods and hope everything is not sold out."

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