What are your online shopping rights?

26 November 2014 ( 15 December 2016 )

Whether you started your online Christmas shopping early or left it to the last minute, it’s important to know your rights.



Festive fever is right upon us, with high streets getting busier with shoppers eager to get everything on their lists for friends and family.

We are also a nation of keen online shoppers, which allows for a last minute purchase without leaving the house. 

Whichever route you take to get that list ticked off, it’s important to know your rights when it comes to anything you might need to return, as well as items that don’t arrive in time for Christmas.

Last-minute Christmas gift ideas

Things to remember when you shop online

  • You have the same rights for purchases made online as those bought on the high street. They include a refund, replacement or repair if the items are not as advertised, nor of satisfactory quality, or not suitable for the purpose for which it is intended.

  • For items bought online there is extra protection in the form of a 14-day ‘cooling-off’ period from the date you receive goods bought online

  • There are some exceptions, including if the goods were personalised, perishable, or where CDs, DVDs and computer games are out of their plastic wrapping

  • Make sure you know who pays for returns if the item you buy isn’t right. A website’s terms and conditions should be clear about who is responsible for paying for postage and packing.

Read our guide to eBay scams

What if your online purchases don't arrive in time for Christmas Day?

Getting purchases delivered can cause problems if gifts do not turn up on time for Christmas Day. Last Christmas 4.8 million people encountered delivery problems.

Online retailers have up to 30 days to deliver goods. This is now the law. But if delivery by Christmas is guaranteed by the retailer, there are grounds for a refund if presents turn up late.

These rights are also the same for phone orders.

Read about your rights if a delivery is late

What online scams should you watch out for at Christmas?

Watch out for fraudsters dubbed “cybergrinches” that come out at this time of year hoping to steal your personal details and use them to borrow money in your name or shop online using your card details.

According to  a report by the National Crime Agency in 2016, the cost of cyber crime to the UK economy is billions of pounds per annum, a number that will only continue to grow.

A frightening statistic, but there are things you can do to prevent it happening to you. 

Don’t reuse your password across lots of different websites. If a hacker gets hold of it from one account it’s likely they will try it out on others as well.

If you are buying something worth more than £100, it makes sense to use a credit card, which offers legal protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This law makes the credit card company jointly liable with the shop or provider if something is faulty, or not as described – or simply fails to arrive.

Make sure your computer has anti-virus software and has had all its updates installed, as these will help keep you safe online.

Seven ways to spot a scam

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.