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Christmas Online Shopping Checklist

Delia Rickard
16th December, 2014

Online shopping brings good tidings in the way of wider choice, time savings and potential bargains. But, it can also leave you looking like a turkey if you fail to use secure payment methods or forget to factor in things like delivery cut-off times.

When you shop with an Australian online business your usual rights under the Australian Consumer Law apply. If a product is not right, you can use your rights to get a repair, replacement or refund. These rights may also apply when you buy from an overseas online business, however you may experience difficulties enforcing them.

Keep in mind that the Law also provides sellers with rights. They don’t have to offer a refund if you got what you asked for but simply changed your mind or found it cheaper elsewhere.

Avoid online problems this silly season, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s shopping checklist.

  1. Research and shop around – have you compared products and prices for sale on other sites? Do you know the total price including delivery charges? How long will it take to receive your purchase? Do they provide FAQs and other tips on safety requirements or other purchase issues?
  2. Know who you’re dealing with – is the business trusted and reliable? What do other consumers say about the business or the product/ service? Does the business provide legitimate contact details?
  3. Make sure you choose what’s right for you – price alone should not be the driving factor in making a decision about which business to buy from. There are many factors to keep in mind – is the quality ok? Does it meet Australian standards? How easy will it be to return if something goes wrong? What’s the customer service like?
  4. Keep your personal details private and secure – does the business have a privacy policy in place? Only pay via secure payment methods such as a credit card or similar secure method – when you go to make a purchase, does the web address start with ‘https’ and can you see a closed padlock symbol? If the only way to pay for something is via a money order or wire transfer, think twice as there is chance that you are being scammed.
  5. If a problem arises – how easy will it be to right a wrong? What do you have to do to return the product if it’s unsafe, doesn’t meet its intended purpose or is not what you expected? Does the business have a good complaints resolution process in place?

The ACCC and ACL regulators have produced a video to help consumers understand their rights. The Shop Smart Online video was produced by some of the creative talent behind The Checkout and is available from the ACCC’s YouTube Channel.

The ACCC Shopper app can also help take the worry out of Christmas and New Year shopping by answering questions about refunds and your rights. The app also sets reminders for your lay-bys, warranties and gift vouchers and stores receipts as photos on your phone.

Delia Rickard
Deputy Chair
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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