Citizens Advice West Berkshire shares top tips for safe and savvy shopping this Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Citizens Advice West Berkshire (CAWB) is reminding consumers of their online shopping rights and how to make sure they stick to their budget.
Advice from Thames Valley Police:
Making a purchase from an online store you haven’t used before? Carry out some research first to check they are reliable. Only create an account if necessary or to save you effort if you’re going to use that site a lot in the future. Be cautious if the website asks you for details that are not required for your purchase, such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your primary school. Ensure that the webpage where you enter your payment details is secure (website address starts with “https”). Using a credit card to pay online also means that should the worst happen and your payment details are compromised, your main bank account won’t be directly affected.
Some of the messages you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. Not all links are bad, but if you’re unsure, don’t use the link – go separately to the website. Report any suspicious emails you receive by forwarding them to: email@example.com You can also report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to 7726.
If you change your mind about a purchase
If you buy online, unless it’s bespoke, made to measure, or you’ve broken a digital or hygiene seal, by law you will get an automatic 14-day cooling-off period. This starts the day after you receive your order, and there doesn’t need to be anything wrong with the item for you to get a refund.
If you buy something in person, shops aren’t legally required to accept returns for unwanted goods. Despite this, the shop may choose to have its own returns policy. If it does, they must honour it, so it’s worth checking your receipt.
If you’re worried your purchase is faulty
If something’s gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you may be entitled to a refund. You’ll have legal rights if you unwittingly bought an item that is broken or damaged, unusable, not what was advertised or doesn’t match the seller’s description.
You’ll have to move quickly, if you’ve bought a faulty item, sellers must give you a refund if you return the item within 30 days. Your rights don’t end after 30 days, though after this period the retailer doesn’t necessarily have to refund you, instead they have the option of repairing or replacing the faulty product.
If you’re worried about scams
Be careful not to end up with a counterfeit item. Secure websites should start “https” and have a padlock symbol in the taskbar. Be wary of spelling or grammar mistakes, and companies that don’t provide an address.
If you’re worried that something you’ve seen online might be a scam, you can get help from the Citizens Advice Scams Action service.
If there’s a problem with your delivery
With more people buying online, more people are experiencing delivery problems. 45% of adults in South East England have had a parcel delivery problem since the first lockdown in March.
If you bought something to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you. If the seller used a delivery company, they should chase the company to find out what’s happened to your order – it’s not your responsibility.
Check the delivery address you gave the seller. Then contact them and ask where your order is. Be careful in selecting safe places; if you nominate a safe place and the parcel is stolen you might have lost the right to a replacement.
Keeping within your budget
Sue Mackie, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice West Berkshire, shares advice on keeping within your budget:
“With so many bargains around at this time of year, many people may feel the pressure to spend. With the uncertainty that coronavirus has brought, it’s important that anyone thinking about turning to credit or taking out a loan to help pay for purchases understands the full costs involved and if they can actually afford to pay it back.”
“If you are struggling with your finances, it may feel overwhelming but it’s best to do something about it as soon as possible. Citizens Advice West Berkshire provides free debt and money advice which can help you find a way forward and avoid spiralling debts. Call us on 01635 516605 and leave a message or get online advice by visiting our website www.citizensadvicewestberkshire.org.uk and choose Getting Help.”
Citizens Advice West Berkshire share their top budgeting tips:
- Spend time shopping around, researching what deals are on offer and getting advice.
- Always look at the total amount you will have to repay when borrowing money. A shorter repayment period may be better than a slightly lower Annual Percentage Rate (APR) amount.
- Take care when looking at buy-now-pay-later deals. It might seem like a good option but you’ll need to make sure you pay on time in future. If you don’t these deals can be very expensive. Even if the deal is interest-free, you should still check that you’ll be able to pay it off in the time period, if not it could damage your credit rating.
- Never borrow money on the spur of the moment. Think about payment options beforehand. Work out your budget and stick to it so that you can afford the repayments.