• Get the lowdown on all your online Christmas shopping rights, so you don't get caught short
  • If you’re looking for an online bargain this Christmas, Ebay has a lot to offer. We explain your rights
  • Online scammers and fraudsters love Christmas, too, so stay safe with our simple steps to protecting yourself

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 Consumer Contracts Regulations.

Cancelling your order You can cancel your order for goods ordered online anytime from the moment you place your order up to 14 days after you receive it. You then have a further 14 days from the date you told the retailer you'd like to cancel your order to return your goods to them.

What you can’t return There are some items you can't return if you simply change your mind, such as CDs, DVDs or computer 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 back returned goods, then they must pay. 

Contacting the retailer Online retailers have to give 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 that the deals might have ended by then and you may end up paying more.

Returning faulty goods Under the Consumer Rights Act 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.

For more information on your rights, including digital downloads, read our guide to the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

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'.

For more information on this, read our Ebay shopping advice.

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.

Be savvy about your password If a site asks you to create a password, use a combination of letters and numbers and avoid using passwords that you've used before.

For more information on scams, read our guide on how to spot a scam.

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