Know Your Rights When Shopping Online
As e-commerce becomes increasingly popular, RMB's Compensation team explains what you should know about your rights and consumer protections before shopping online.
As technology advances, consumers are increasingly turning to online stores for cheap products and quick delivery.
Online sales in Australia for the 2017 financial year exceeding $32.5 billion, but government agencies such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are reporting huge spikes in complaints from unhappy consumers.
The Australian Consumer Law ('the Law') applies to all consumer transactions conducted within Australia, including online, and helps to ensure that goods live up to your expectations, including with regard to quality, fitness for purpose and matching description.
The Law can also protect consumers making purchases from overseas businesses. However, taking legal action against an overseas business can be extremely difficult and impossible to enforce.
So what steps can you take to minimise the risks when shopping online?
- Buy from Australian based businesses: If issues arise after buying from an online store which also has a physical outlet, you are entitled to return the goods to their store in person. If the retailer operates solely online, you should check that they have a 'base of operations' in Australia. To do this, check that they have an Australian Business Number (ABN) with an address in Australia. If a phone number is available, you may also consider making a quick call to check the information provided is legitimate.
- Ensure that the business is reputable (particularly for overseas purchases): You can do this by checking online reviews provided by other consumers. Government websites, such as ACC or 'Scam Watch', may be useful in identifying whether other people have been scammed by the same retailer.
- Use a reputable third party payment system: Services such as PayPal may provide you with additional peace of mind as they often have an automated insurance policy for purchases made online. If something goes wrong, they may be able to help you recover your money.
Ultimately, you should always consider the risk you are taking when shopping online. If you are buying items from outside of Australia and the product is faulty, there is a risk that you will be unable to return the goods, or receive a refund.
Have you ever felt your consumer rights have been violated from online purchases? You can contact us. We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, ask us a question via email or even chatting with you online as time limits apply to these claims.