Know your rights when buying online - empowering savvy consumers

Published on Wednesday 28 November 2018

Over half of consumers don’t know they have fewer rights when buying from a private seller, compared to business purchases, according to analysis of online marketplace reports to Citizens Advice conducted in the last year.

The advice comes as part of National Consumer Week - a nationwide campaign conducted by the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) which highlights key online markets issues faced by UK consumers and how to seek redress, and runs from Monday 26 November until Sunday 2 December.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has produced an in-depth advice video with important guidance for consumers on buying from online marketplaces.

Chief Executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, Leon Livermore, said: "Easier access to online marketplaces has revolutionised the way we purchase goods, however this presents new challenges in keeping consumers safe. National Consumer Week offer trading standards and other consumer protection partners the chance to engage with businesses and consumers, and pave the way for safer marketplaces where all can thrive."

With a £154bn spend in the UK online in 2016 and 76% of people using online marketplaces it is becoming increasingly important for consumers to know their rights, and for businesses to be aware of their responsibilities.
The Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kelly Tolhurst, said: “The UK’s consumer protection regime is one of the strongest in the world, but there is always more to do to ensure shoppers know their rights.”

In the past four years calls to Citizens Advice about problems with purchases relating to online marketplaces increased by 35%, with 50% of people reporting encountering problems when trying to seek resolution. Over 13,000 people reported issues last year with an average loss of £215.

Chief Executive at Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, added: “With millions of people trying to find a bargain online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, buyers need to beware when purchasing from online marketplaces…. Before clicking the buy button, it is really important people check the product information available otherwise they risk being left out-of-pocket.”