Your rights when shopping online

National Consumer Week

Your rights when shopping online

National Consumer Week is a yearly campaign which aims to raise people's awareness of specific consumer issues. In 2020, this takes place on 16 - 22 November.

This year’s campaign focuses on raising awareness of consumer rights when shopping online, and what people can do if something goes wrong. Here are links to the national Citizens Advice website advice pages.

If you’ve had a problem when buying something online:

For information when there’s an issue with delivery:


Advice on scams and shopping safely online

Quick fire advice on scams and safe online shopping:

  • Before you buy anything, take a few minutes to research the company or website you’re using.
  • Read reviews from different websites, and search for the company’s details on gov.uk - this will tell you if they’re a registered company or not.
  • Pay by PayPal or by debit or credit card. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong.
  • Be wary of unofficial sites offering big discounts, and make sure you’re buying from the retailer’s official website. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Scammers may appear like a trusted business, using links in ads or emails to direct you to a fake website. Don’t click on any links you don’t trust.
  • Make your online shopping accounts secure. Try using 3 random words to create a long and strong password.
  • Use a strong password for your email accounts that you don’t use anywhere else.

Five top tips to avoid delivery problems

  1. Check the delivery policies before you place an order. Check the delivery times, the delivery costs as well as the process and potential cost of returning the items.
  2. If you won’t be home, provide as much detail as possible about where the parcel should be delivered to. Consider asking a neighbour or friend if you can deliver it to their address. However, this will be seen as a receipt of delivery, so only do this if you know the space is safe or the friend or neighbour will be home.
  3. Is it an online trader or online marketplace? Check if you are dealing with a trader or a private seller on an online marketplace. Your rights can be different if you’re buying online from a private seller - the goods must be as described and can’t be misrepresented (e.g. by claiming something used is brand new). However, the seller doesn’t have to disclose any faults of the items.
  4. Look at online reviews of the trader to see if they’re genuine. By reading the reviews of other customers, you can learn how reliable the company is and how well they deal with missing parcel complaints and refunds.
  5. Keep in mind who you should deal with when a parcel goes missing. Your purchase and agreement is with the trader, therefore if your parcel goes missing you should speak to the trader to deal with the problem, not the courier company.

Factsheets to download