News item

UK ECC: Santa still not arrived? What are your rights?

Every year after Christmas, the UK ECC receives complaints about Christmas gifts – either about presents that didn’t work, weren’t what was ordered or worse still, simply didn’t arrive.


Jed Mayatt, UK European Consumer Centre Manager, said: “Not everybody is as reliable as Santa and in the first three months of 2011 we received 11 per cent more complaints about Christmas gifts than in 2010 – for UK consumers, that was bad news. We hope that there won’t be the same kind of increase in 2012.


“There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the return of Christmas presents. Contrary to popular belief, consumers don’t automatically have the right to return unwanted Christmas gifts to a shop and claim a refund unless the goods were faulty or damaged, although they may be able to take advantage of the shops’ goodwill policy. If an item is faulty or damaged then consumers should always try to take it back as soon as they can. In each case, they should also always try to take with them the receipt or other proof or purchase such as a bank or credit card statement.


“And consumers often don’t realise that they have certain extra rights when they buy goods or services without face-to-face contact.”


So if you ordered Christmas gifts online and they didn’t arrive by the big day, what can you do?”


Sonia Payne, Legal Advisor for the UK European Consumer Centre, hosted by the Trading Standards Institute, said: “When consumers buy goods online they generally have more rights than when they buy them in a shop. This means that, in most circumstances, if an order is delivered too late, they can return it for a full refund within seven working days starting from the day after the goods were delivered. The same is true if the goods were not suitable for any reason, for example, if an article of clothing doesn’t fit. There are some exceptions to this, for example personalised goods, CDs, DVDs or computer games which consumers have unwrapped.


“EU Distance Selling Legislation (the Consumer Protection – Distance Selling – Regulations 2000 in the UK) states that goods purchased online (or via any other distance means such as mail order or telephone order) must be delivered within 30 days unless a longer period of time is agreed between the consumer and trader. These rights apply to all distance purchases in the EU as well as Iceland and Norway, and if the goods didn’t arrive within that time consumers should be offered a full refund. However, they should be aware that these rules do not apply if the goods are ordered from elsewhere in the world, for example from the USA or the Far East.


“Consumers should read the terms and conditions on any website carefully, as these will form part of the contract they agree to when placing their order, and these may well have stated that no delivery date could be guaranteed when approaching Christmas. They will still be able to return the goods when they do arrive, under the Distance Selling Regulations, but they are very unlikely to be able to make any claim against the company for late delivery unless this was a specific term of the contract agreed by both parties.


“When it has been expressly agreed that the goods must be delivered before or on a particular date, for example Christmas, if the goods arrive after the agreed date then the consumer may hold the trader liable for a breach of contract (unless the traders’ terms and conditions contain disclaimers in case of extraordinary circumstances preventing delivery to the agreed schedule.) This applies to goods bought online both cross-border in the EU or at home in the UK. It also applies throughout the rest of the year, as well as at Christmas-time.”


A leaflet called ‘Shopping online across the EU’ is downloadable from the UK ECC website – with information on consumer rights for online purchases.


If UK consumers find themselves in dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK, they can contact the UK ECC – our advisers will assist consumer in the attempt to resolve the complaints. Consumers can make contact with the UK European Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 08456 04 05 03 weekdays between 10am and 3pm.


***ENDS***

Notes to Editors


For further information please contact UK European Consumer Centre’s press office on 08456 08 96 06.


UK European Consumer Centre – 08456 04 05 03


The UK European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 29 centres covering Europe, plus Iceland and Norway. The aim of the network is to provide advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK. The Network will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.


UK ECC can provide advice in the following main areas: buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs, air travel.


UK ECC is co-funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the European Commission.


The UK ECC service is delivered by the Trading Standards Institute (www.tsi.org.uk)


Media queries should sent to ecc@tsi.org.uk or by phone on 08456 08 96 06.


•    The UK ECC provides advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK and will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.


•    Consumers can make contact with the UK European Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 08456 04 05 03 weekdays between 10am and 3pm.


•    If in doubt before you buy, contact our sister organisation – the European Consumer Centre for Services – for pre-purchasing advice: www.ukecc-services.net