It can be easy to make a mistake when ordering online, and sometimes what you receive isn't what you were expecting.
Last year, UK consumers spent a whopping £8bn shopping online during the festive season.
So, with more and more of us shopping online at Christmas it's vital that you know your rights.
Your online shopping rights
There are special laws and regulations that give you extra protection when you shop online, or with a catalogue or over the phone. These are called the Distance Selling Regulations.
Cancelling your order You can cancel your order for goods ordered online anytime from the moment you place your order up to seven working days from the day after you receive it.
What you can’t return There are some items you can't return if you simply change your mind, such as CDs, DVDs or software if you've broken the seal on the wrapping, perishable items such as food and flowers, and tailor-made or personalised goods.
Returning goods If an online shop doesn't explain who pays to send returned goods back, then they must pay. The cost of any returns must also be 'reasonable'. So if it costs nearly as much as you paid for an item to send it back, the retailer must cover the cost.
Returning faulty goods Items must be fit for their purpose, as described, and of satisfactory quality. If you have to return an item for one of these reasons, give the retailer the chance to collect it or ask for the cost of postage back.
Contacting the retailer The E Commerce Regulations also state that the online shop has to give full details of who they are and provide a geographical address and an email address at which to contact them.
T&Cs to watch out for Some online retailers say that the price of your order will be fixed the day the goods are dispatched to you. Most supermarkets do this, so if you're ordering lots of half-price goods to be delivered next week, bear in mind the deals might have ended by then and you may end up paying more.
Buying presents on eBay
eBay is often an online bargain hunter’s top shopping destination at Christmas.
But eBay is not the same as an online store; instead it acts as a marketplace where you can buy goods from a wide range of individuals and online traders.
It’s always worth looking at the seller rating and feedback to see what others have said about their purchasing experience with the seller.
Although many of the sellers on eBay are now businesses or traders, many are private individuals.
Your rights vary depending on whether you buy from an individual or a business, and depending on whether you win a successful bid or 'Buy Now'.
Be safe paying online this Christmas
Don’t fall foul of online scams or fraud this Christmas - take a few simple steps to protect yourself:
- Install the right software Make sure you have good virus protection, anti-spyware software and a firewall
- Update your browser Make sure you're using the latest version of your browser, and have it set to the highest security level and install updates when prompted
- Avoid dodgy links Don't navigate to sites by clicking links in emails or from adverts. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a site, use a search engine to research it
- Do some security checks Secure sites will display a locked padlock or key symbol in the browser window. They will also have an address that begins 'https' instead of the usual 'http'
- Choose your payment method wisely It can be a good idea to get a credit card that you use just for online purchases as it'll make it easier for you to track your genuine purchases
- If a site asks you to create a password Use a combination of letters and numbers and avoid using passwords that you have used before