Irish shoppers buying online from UK companies could face significant changes to their rights, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has warned.

A new study from the CCPC has found that almost three-in-four (72pc) Irish shoppers have bought online from the UK in the last two years and nearly 30pc have done so more than 30 times.

Those who shopped online from the UK more than 10 times during the past two years, were highest amongst 15-24 year olds and ABC1 social class.

“When you buy online from an EU-based business, there are protections which ensure that you have the opportunity to change your mind and also you have very strong consumer rights if something goes wrong, for example if you don’t get your items delivered”

The study of 1,000 adults also found that 40pc of those that did buy online from the UK returned products.

2 in 5 (40pc) of those who shopped online from the UK, have returned something they have purchased online. This is highest amongst females (50pc) and those who live in Dublin (48pc). ‘Product did not fit me/suit my needs’ was the top mention for returning (55pc).

Brexit boost for EU retailers?

Uncertainty over consumer protection rights post-Brexit could turn out to be a boost for Irish and EU retailers with 31pc of respondents who shopped online from the UK reporting that they will ‘Buy more from websites in other EU countries’, while a quarter stated they will make no changes (25pc).

Three-fifths (60pc) of respondents are aware that their rights are different when purchasing goods online depending on whetherthe company is based in the EU or outside the EU. This is lowest among those aged under 35.

Almost two-thirds (65pc) of those who bought online from the UK in past two years say that their rights are different when purchasing goods online depending on whether the company is based in the EU or outside the EU. This is highest amongst those aged 55-64 (81pc). Those who said their rights are the same (29pc) is highest amongst 15-24 years olds (47pc).

Respondents who are aware of differences in consumer rights between companies based in the EU and companies based elsewhere were asked to identify these differences. Just under a quarter (24pc) stated there are ‘More consumer rights/protection/regulations in the EU’ followed by ‘Returns policy is different in the EU’ (17pc).

Caveat emptor

The chair of the CCPC Isolde Goggin warned shoppers to pay attention to returns policy and terms and conditions on websites before they buy.

“When you buy online from an EU-based business, there are protections which ensure that you have the opportunity to change your mind and also you have very strong consumer rights if something goes wrong, for example if you don’t get your items delivered,” said Goggin.

“When the UK leaves the EU, these protections will no longer be guaranteed when buying from UK-based retailers. Whether you are a frequent or occasional online shopper, our message is simple – before you buy, check where the business is located and read the terms and conditions on the website – be sure to check in particular the returns policy and see if you can return goods if you change your mind. A

“Also check to see if there are costs for returning items. Make sure you are happy with these before you purchase anything,” Goggin said.

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Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 3 September, 2019

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