Top 5 tips for online shopping this ChristmasKnow your rights when buying gifts online

25 November 2010

Online shopping for Christmas

Online shopping appeals if you can't face Christmas crowds, but 1 in 3 people experience a problem buying gifts online, according to Which? research. See our top tips to make sure you don't get caught out.

The Which? public survey of 2,538 British adults reveals that three quarters have bought gifts online over the last two years - but faulty presents were delivered for 1 in 10 and didn't turn up in time for 1 in 5.

The survey also shows that online shoppers need to brush up on their legal rights. When faced with a list of gifts, just 7% could identify which unwanted ones would usually be refunded if returned to the online shop. Some, for example, thought you'd get a refund for an unwanted CD or DVD that was removed from its cellophane. Which? Legal expert, Peter McCarthy, said: 'It's important to read the terms and conditions - who pays postage if you want to return the goods? Also, check the returns policy as the seller may have given you longer than the minimum set out in the regulations - especially around Christmas.'

Top 5 tips from Which? Legal Service

  • You have at least seven working days from the day after you receive the item to cancel the order
  • You should get a full refund, including original postage, but check terms and conditions. If the item's unwanted, you could be charged return postage
  • Make sure you know what items can be returned and check the time limits - especially at Christmas, as some online shops may extend their returns policy. You can still ask for a refund if goods are faulty
  • If your goods arrive damaged, it's the seller's responsibility - not the delivery company's
  • If you want to cancel an order, do it by fax, email or letter or by leaving a notice at the seller's address. Don't simply phone the seller or leave a message.

If you're unsure of your rights or have been stood up by an online shop - whether they've delivered something too late for an occasion or it was damaged when it arrived - we want to hear about it. Join the debate at and share your thoughts on internet shopping for Christmas. In the meantime, look at our or visit Which? Legal Service for advice from our top consumer lawyers.

Which? has ranked 78 online shops and have star ratings for their delivery policy and returns. Have a look at our best and worst online shops survey to see how big names from eight different shopping categories compare.

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