Advice And Guidance On Shopping Safely Online

The Consumer Council (CC) has issued advice and guidance on shopping safely online ahead of this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

With Black Friday coming up on 24th November, followed by Cyber Monday on the 27th, consumers in NI will be hoping to find some great offers online.

Some retailers have even started their deals already. However, delivery problems may occur including delayed, lost and damaged parcels.

Michael Legg, CC's Head of Postal Services said: "Most consumers (91%) in Northern Ireland shop online. Therefore, the importance of knowing your rights about things such as delivery costs, delivery problems and returns is increasingly important. Our research from this year on delivery problems related to online shopping showed that:

• 18% experienced a lost parcel which never arrived

• 19% received a damaged parcel on arrival

• 31% had a parcel left in an insecure location

"We have compiled some top tips on some of the most common issues we hear about from consumers surrounding online shopping, from delivery to returning goods."

Our top tips when shopping online are:

Check delivery terms before you buy – To avoid disappointment always check delivery policies, terms and conditions, and the delivery costs before committing to a purchase to avoid disappointment.

Do not assume that all online retailers offer free returns - You may have to cover the cost of returning items so always check before purchasing.

Get the item delivered on time - If you need the item by a certain date, factor in enough time as there may not be a next-day or express delivery option to Northern Ireland. Goods ordered online must be delivered within the time frame specified or agreed with the retailer.

Think ahead - Will you be there when your parcel is being delivered? If not, you may wish to consider selecting an alternative address or a safe place with the retailer.

Be aware that if you give permission for your delivery to be left in a specified safe place or received by a nominated neighbour and something goes wrong, you will still be considered to have received the delivery. Think very carefully about those options when you’re making a purchase.

Contact the retailer if the parcel has not arrived or arrives damaged - The retailer is responsible for goods up until they are delivered. This means, that in the event of non-delivery or if the item arrives damaged, contact the retailer rather than the delivery company. Check goods quickly after receiving them and raise any issues promptly.

Always get a proof of posting if returning goods - When using the designated courier or pre-paid postage label organised by the retailer, it is important to retain a proof of posting. If any delivery problems occur after you have returned the item, the retailer is responsible for sorting this out with their appointed delivery provider.

Include your address on the back of sent parcels - In case of problems with the return delivery.

Be aware of sophisticated scam emails and text messages related to parcel deliveries that appear to be from legitimate sources - Stop and think, and never click on links in text messages or emails. Never disclose your bank details; delivery companies will never ask for these to release your parcel.

In the event of a postal issue, Michael added: "There are different processes in place for dealing with postal issues, depending on the circumstances."

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