Consumer rights

Most of the consumer rights that apply generally in the UK also apply to online shopping. There are even additional rights attached to 'distance selling', such as the customers' right to cancel an order (without any reason) within seven days of delivery, and the right to demand delivery within 30 days (if no other date was agreed).

If you use a credit card, and spend over £100 in a transaction, you also have the right of refund from that credit card if the product is faulty, or the webtrader goes out of business. This is by virtue of credit law, so does not apply to transactions using a debit card or cheque.

 Credit and debit card issuers are also obliged to refund any losses if your card is used fraudulently on the Internet – provided that you have not compromised its security in some way.

Buying through Internet auctions

These consumer rights do not apply to purchase through Internet auction sites, unless the seller is a trader. However, the seller is more likely to be a private individual, so you have only the same kind of rights to a fair deal as you would if answering a personal advertisement in a newspaper.

In other words, you have to do your own risk assessment. An Internet auction site usually does not take responsibility for these transactions – but it will be interested to hear if any individuals using its site are behaving dishonestly, and may reflect this in user-ratings.

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