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Consumer Rights A Weak Point For Online Shoppers

19 March 2010 - 09:23 by Simon Crisp

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The British are widely regarded as being an intelligent bunch when it comes to safe shopping online, adept at finding those special bargains and at using price comparison websites to get the best deals. But it seems that there is a puzzling omission in the collective knowledge when it comes to understanding consumer rights. Simply put, a significant percentage of British shoppers have a poor awareness as to the obligations of retailers and their own rights.

A recent piece of research from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found the members of the British public who were surveyed to be lacking in knowledge as to how their consumer rights whilst doing some safe shopping online may differ, or in some cases remain the same, as their rights when making purchases in non-online retail environments, typically the local high street. As many as three quarters of those asked were unaware that there are significant differences between their online and offline consumer rights, which include, for example, the right of online shoppers to a seven-day cooling off period on many types of goods.

This lack of knowledge may well explain statistics uncovered by the research indicating that almost two thirds of Brits, having made a purchase online, are unlikely to return that purchase, compared with purchases made at a high street retail outlet. Experts are now encouraging online shoppers to more fully understand their consumer rights and understand that, should an item be purchased online that is not up to the standard the consumer expects, they can return the item with no questions asked within a week.

The research forms part of the government's 'Know Your Rights' campaign, funded by the advice service, Consumer Direct, which was set up by the Department of Trade and Industry.