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Consumers warned about how Brexit could impact online shopping

One of the main rights consumers have when they buy online from an EU-based retailer is to return an item and receive a refund.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Kite_rin

CONSUMERS HAVE BEEN warned about the impact Brexit could have on online shopping.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is today launching a six-week public awareness campaign in a bid to prepare consumers for the potential impact of Brexit on their rights when they buy online from UK-based retailers.

As part of the campaign, the CCPC has published research that shows 72% of Irish consumers have bought online from a company based in the UK in the last two years.

The most popular items bought were clothing, electronics and footwear.

One of the main rights consumers have when they buy online from an EU-based retailer is the right to change their mind and receive a refund within a certain timeframe.

The CCPC’s research, which surveyed 1,000 adults around Ireland, found that 40% of those who had bought from a UK retailer had returned items.

When asked about their reason for returning items, 55% of people said they returned a purchase because the product did not fit or suit their needs and 16% said they had changed their mind. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, these rights may not be guaranteed, the CCPC said.

When asked about changing their shopping behaviour as a result of Brexit, the research found that 31% of people plan to buy more from websites in other EU countries.

However, 25% of consumers who have bought online from the UK plan to make no changes to their online shopping habits.

Extra VAT 

Given the uncertainty around Brexit, the CCPC has advised consumers to be aware of the potential changes and to take action before they buy online from the UK.

Speaking today, Isolde Goggin, Chair of the CCPC, said consumers who buy from EU-based businesses “have very strong consumer rights if something goes wrong, for example if you don’t get your items delivered”.

However, when Brexit happens people will no longer be guaranteed these rights when buying products from UK-based retailers. 

Whether you are a frequent or occasional online shopper, our message is simple – before you buy, check where the business is located and read the terms and conditions on the website – be sure to check in particular the returns policy and see if you can return goods if you change your mind.

“Also check to see if there are costs for returning items. Make sure you are happy with these before you purchase anything,” Goggin said. 

Britain is due to leave the European Union, with or without a deal, on 31 October. 

Speaking today, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys TD said consumers “should also be aware that following Brexit, they may have to pay certain taxes and duties including customs duty, excise duty and VAT, if they are buying from UK traders”.

More information can be read here.  

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Órla Ryan

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