Coronavirus: Online Shopping
Information about the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on consumers trying to order goods online.
Retailer has gone into administration – what are my rights?
The economic impact of COVID-19 has seen many retailers face financial difficulties, with some online retailers going into or are likely to be placed into administration.
Click and Collect services: From the 27 November up to and including 10 December 2020, The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed that controlled ‘click and collect’ services for retailers can operate during the two-week circuit-breaker. For further information and guidance for businesses and customers visit the NIDirect staying safe while using click and collect services webpage.
If the retailer is still trading online: Some retailers are still trading online despite the closure of their high street stores. If it is still trading online, your statutory consumer rights still apply and you may still receive your item as normal or you could ask for a refund if the things you bought weren't delivered. More information on your online consumer rights can be found in our Guide to Shopping Safely Online.
The retailer is no longer delivering to Northern Ireland: Whilst it can seem unfair, it is lawful for retailer to choose not to deliver to Northern Ireland. However, retailers must make this clear to consumers. The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 ensures retailers must indicate clearly, no later than at the beginning of the ordering process if any delivery restrictions, such as geographical restrictions, apply. This applies to non-delivery to Northern Ireland.
Can I send back return if the company is still trading?
It depends. Once a retailer goes into administration the administrator's role is to try and save the company, and in doing so, it may take the decision not to accept returns.
If the company is no longer trading online, you can try to claim your money back through the following options:
- If your order was £100 or more and was paid with your credit card, then your credit card company has equally liability under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This is a legal protection. Contact your credit card company for a refund.
- If you order was less than £100 and you paid using credit or debit card you can use the Chargeback system. This is where your bank gets cash back on your behalf. This is not a legal protection and card companies offer it at their own discretion. It must be claimed within 120 days. Contact your card issuers for more details.
- Paypal - In most instances Paypal is seen as a third party payment method. You may be protected with Paypal buyers protection. Raise a dispute with Paypal buyers protection within 180 days of payment.
Gift Vouchers and Administration
Unfortunately it is within the law for retailers to refuse gift vouchers after going into administration. However, here is some information and advice to help you plan your next steps.
If the retailer that has been placed into administration still accepts gift vouchers, it would be advisable to spend these as soon as possible as the situation could change quickly.
If the business is sold, it is at the discretion of the new owner as to whether they will accept gift vouchers purchased before it was placed into administration.
If gift vouchers are no longer being accepted or the retailer is refusing to deliver to Northern Ireland, you may be able to claim some of the value back, by either:
- Checking with the person who bought the gift vouchers to see if it was purchased using a credit or debit card. If so, they may be able to secure a full refund from their card issuer.
- Also, in some cases it may be possible to make a claim in writing to the administrators with proof of your vouchers. You can find the name of the administrator on the website of the retailer that has gone into administration. It is worth noting that there is no guarantee you’ll get all your money back and it could also take up to a year for the claim to be processed
List of companies who have entered administration during COVID-19
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 your right to cancel an order starts the moment you place it and doesn't end until 14 days have passed from the day your goods were delivered.
It is advisable to contact the retailer in writing through an email or an online cancellation form.
If your order is in transit already, you probably will not be able to cancel it before it reaches you. But, remember that you still have the right to cancel the item for up to 14 days after you’ve received it. Once you’ve confirmed with the retailer you’d like to cancel your order, you then have a further 14 days to return it.
Most delivery companies have adjusted their delivery process to keep consumers and staff safe. This means they knock and step aside to a safe distance while you get the item. If the item requires a signature, instead of obtaining a consumer’s signature the delivery company will record the name of the person accepting the delivery.
Find out how different delivery companies have changed their delivery process on www.consumercouncil.org.uk/coronavirus/postal-services.
The retailer is responsible for goods up until they are delivered. This means if they don’t arrive you must contact the retailer rather than the delivery company. You can get your money back.
Retailers must deliver within the agreed time frame. However, always check the estimated delivery time as this may be longer than before.
If no time frame has been agreed, the retailer must deliver it within 30 days of your order.
If the item is not received when expected (either agreed delivery time or within 30 days) you can cancel the order and get a refund.
The retailer is responsible for goods until they are delivered to you. The retailer is also responsible for the condition of the goods when they are delivered. If the item arrives damaged contact the retailer rather than the delivery company.
Check goods as soon as you receive after receiving them and raise any issues promptly. Retain evidence of the damage and take photographs of the parcel or box that it was delivered in and make a complaint to the retailer.