… when “add to cart” is not so smart!

By Lynette Lyons

Many of us have had tough days, especially in lockdown, where online shopping has been the highlight of our day, or when targeted advertising has really aced their brief.

Before you rush off to grab your card details, you should consider what you are buying, but more particularly – who and where you are buying it from.

We have all seen viral online shopping fails where products have been delivered and look nothing like the picture that depicts them. It’s funny for a moment – but where do you go to get a remedy?

If you have purchased a product from an online Australian store, your usual consumer rights apply such as repair, replacement or refund. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission lists the various rights and guarantees available to consumers purchasing items online. You should consider these, as your rights to a repair, replacement or refund may differ depending on what you have purchased. A replacement for a one-of-a-kind item may be more difficult than an item that is widely manufactured, so your options may be limited to a refund only. Where possible, you should first attempt to find an Australian seller for the product you are looking at purchasing.

If you have purchased something online directly from an international seller, it may be more difficult trying to get a remedy from them. In the event that you have an issue, for example the item that arrived wasn’t the same as what you ordered or it arrived damaged, you should first contact the seller and seek a remedy, such as a refund or replacement. If you were unsuccessful reaching out directly, you may be able to seek the assistance of the Consumer Protection Agency in their country, if there is one. It may be difficult to locate the country of origin as online businesses can operate anywhere.

We recommend doing your due diligence before purchasing from an international seller.

A great way to start is by checking the terms and conditions on the seller’s website. You should know what you are paying for and if there are any hidden costs like taxes or restrictions on the product being sold in your country.

Contacting the seller before purchasing to ask questions or request information and photos is an easy way to measure how easy it is to make contact and based on their responses you may feel more comfortable transacting with the seller.

You should also consider whether your personal information is safe when entering in your details, such as billing and delivery addresses, phone numbers and banking details. We have all had moments where we have thought “It’s only $14.99, if it doesn’t arrive, I haven’t lost much” but what you may have lost are your personal details and you are now at a higher risk of cyber fraud.

Third-party payment agents such as PayPal can be a good alternative if you are unsure about purchasing from a particular website. PayPal offer customer remedies in some instances where you haven’t received the product or received a faulty or wrong product.

Always remember – if in doubt, exit out!