Have you ever gone online to shop, only later to have a sinking feeling that you may have done something illegal? It’s easy to think that it couldn’t possibly be illegal to buy a grill or a new shirt, but depending on the site and your location, various laws could apply. Here are seven legal considerations every shopper should make before purchasing online.
- Know Your Consumer Rights and Limitations
Every country has laws regarding the sale of goods and what you are entitled to as a consumer if things go wrong with purchases. If you don’t know your rights as a consumer, it will be harder for you to seek legal action should something go wrong. If things do go wrong, then remember that ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
- Check the Company’s Policy
Now that you’re aware of your rights as a consumer, it is essential to know what this information means for online shopping. Take, for example, Amazon – an e-commerce store or website with millions upon millions of customers across the world. Even though Amazon allows buyers to return products sometimes even if they’ve used them, they have conditions on who can use this service, and it depends on the manufacturer’s warranty.
- Understand Your Responsibilities
The flip side of being a savvy online shopper knows what you are responsible for when purchasing online – if something goes wrong with the product, did you keep the original packaging? Do you still have all the purchase information to hand? You need to be able to answer any questions that could arise if you have a problem with the item.
- Think About Where You are Shopping From and Why
Where an online store is based can make all the difference when thinking about your legal rights because it will play heavily on the country’s consumers and copyright laws. For example, Amazon is based in the United States, and therefore American consumer laws apply to their customers – meaning that there are limitations to what you can return if you’re not happy with something.
- The Seller’s Policy May Influence Any Legal Action You Take
If things go wrong and you need to seek a refund or compensation, bear in mind that this will be harder to do if you bought from a company with no systems in place for receiving and processing compensation claims. If they don’t have any systems in place, then you can take legal action against the seller – but it could cost more than just returning your item and buying something else instead.
- Copyright Laws Protect Your Purchase
It’s easy to forget, but just because you’ve bought something doesn’t mean that you’re automatically free to use it – the creator has sold their copyright along with it, which would mean that they still have ownership over the design. If you want to share an image or item online, then make sure you give credit to where it belongs.
- What is a Refund? What is a Replacement?
It’s not always as simple as returning the item and getting your money back, depending on the seller’s policy. For example, if you bought an expensive coat from an online retailer and it turns out to be faulty or damaged upon arrival, they would usually offer you two options: a full refund or a replacement item. You might be surprised to find out that in some cases, it is cheaper to buy the item again from the same retailer – that’s why it is good to know your consumer rights.