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Black Friday shoppers warned to be aware of their rights as watchdog expects surge in requests for help

It is expected that around €250m will be spent by Irish shoppers today.

Image: Shutterstock/Kite_rin

THE COMPETITION AND Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has urged the public to be aware of their consumer rights when shopping online during Black Friday.

The consumer watchdog says it is expecting a surge in requests for help from buyers who have experienced issues with online purchases ahead of the annual shopping day.

The US phenomenon, which takes place today, has become a staple in the Irish market in recent years.

It is expected that around €250m will be spent by Irish shoppers between online and high street retailers today.

Ahead of the shopping day, the CCPC has reminded consumers – particularly those who are buying online – to be aware of their rights when it comes to refunds, deliveries and faulty goods to avoid being left out of pocket in the run up to Christmas.

“Online shopping tends to be particularly popular around events such as the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” Áine Carroll of the CCPC said.

“And as a result at this time of the year in particular we see a significant increase in contacts from consumers who are having issues with purchases made online during this period.”

Carroll said that around seven in every ten queries the group receives about shopping online are about issues with deliveries and refunds, particularly in relation to clothing and footwear.

To assist shoppers, the CCPC has issued a number of tips for those planning on buying online today.

They include check where a business is based when buying online, which the watchdog says is important for knowing not only how long it will take for goods to arrive, but because where a shop is based will determine a consumer’s rights.

Those who buy within the EU have additional rights, including – in most cases – to cancel a purchase and get a refund up to 14 days from the date that goods are received.

However, there are some exceptions to this 14-day rule: refunds cannot be obtained for personalised or custom-made items, such clothing with a name on it, jewellery that has been engraved or furniture built to exact specifications.

Meanwhile, those buying outside the EU are reminded to check that websites are legitimate, with the most important step being to read the terms and conditions on the website.

The CCPC has also warned consumers to look out for information about websites’ refund policies, and to pay VAT on items if their value plus shipping comes to €22 or more.

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Those who are planning on buying items from outside the EU valued at €150 or more are also reminded that they legally have to pay import charges such as customs and excise duties.

Meanwhile, the watchdog says that consumer rights don’t change just because something is on sale, and that shoppers are entitled to a replacement, refund or repair if a purchase is faulty.

Buyers who agree to accept a refund for a faulty item which is on sale for a reduced price should also be given the full amount, the CCPC says, and not just the discounted price.

O’Carroll added that consumers’ rights are the same on Black Friday as they are on any other day of the year.

“When you buy online from an EU-based business, there are protections which ensure that you have the opportunity to change your mind,” she said.

She concluded: “If you choose to buy online from a website based outside of the EU, such as the US or China, a different set of rules may apply and difficulties may arise if you need to seek redress.”

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