To help shoppers start 2024 clued up on their rights, Citizens Advice Wiltshire is sharing its top tips to shop confidently.
A woman with a laptop shopping online while her dog is sat behind her on a sofa - the image features the words Helping you stay ShopAwareAs part of our annual awareness campaign we’re encouraging consumers to know their rights when shopping, including what to do if you run into issues after purchasing, have complaints around defective goods or substandard services, and when sellers fail to deliver.
With budgets already stretched, none of us want to waste precious time or money on retail issues that could easily be avoided. 
That’s why we’re dedicated to giving you, the consumers, the knowledge you need to stay savvy when shopping on the highstreet or online. 
Everyone can be a consumer champion when they have the right information!
With the key shopping times of Christmas and the January sales just gone, we’re sharing our top tips and advice on what to do if things went wrong, or if something you ordered didn’t arrive, as well as how to return faulty goods and how to shop safely and stay aware of scams. 

Citizens Advice Wiltshire also offers top tips to help consumers shop safely this year:

1. Delivery problems
  • It’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you. Check the delivery address you gave the seller and contact them to ask where your order is. 
  • If the seller claims they've delivered it or don't know where it is, you can ask for a redelivery. You might be able to get a refund in some circumstances.
2. Defective goods
  • If something’s gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you might be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement. You’ll have legal rights if the item you bought is:
    • broken or damaged ('not of satisfactory quality')
    • unusable (‘not fit for purpose’)
    • not what was advertised or doesn’t match the seller’s description"
3. What if I change my mind?
  • If you buy in store, you don’t have a legal right to return goods if you’ve simply changed your mind. Lots of shops have their own policies and do allow this, but time limits can vary.
  • If you buy online you usually get a right to cancel, known as a cooling off period, but there are exemptions including bespoke or personalised goods, and computer software where the seal is broken.
4. Pay safeA woman opening a box containing ankle boots. The image also features the words: Check your rights to return an item
  • Pay by card so you have another form of protection if there’s a problem. The other way would be by making a chargeback or section 75 claim to your card provider. 
  • Be cautious if you’re asked to pay in an unusual way such as in iTunes vouchers, crypto currency or via bank transfer as this could be the sign of a scam. 
5. Making a return
  • Get proof of your return - a receipt from a shop or proof of postage. If you pay for return postage check the service you use covers the value of the goods.
  • Using a service that includes tracking means you can prove when a trader received your return. 

Consumer Awareness Week 2024 (29 January - 4 February 2024)

This Consumer Awareness Week (29 January - 4 February 2024) we’ll also be sharing our tips and advice on social media and through the media to raise awareness and understanding with consumers on how to shop wisely, what to look out for, and what to do if things go wrong. 
We’ll also be revealing our new research that shows 1 in 4  shoppers in the South West have experienced a problem with an item they’ve bought since October 2023. 
You can help support the campaign by sharing our #ShopAware content and spreading the word.
Our annual Consumer Awareness campaign aims to:
  • Raise awareness and understanding with consumers on how to shop wisely, what to look out for, and what to do if things go wrong.
  • Educate consumers on their rights, particularly when shopping from online marketplaces. 
  • Empower consumers to seek a remedy if things go wrong.
  • Raise awareness of where consumers can go if they need more advice and help with an issue.

What else can you do to shop with confidence?

Do your research
Read reviews on different websites, make sure you’re buying from a retailer’s official website and don’t be pressured by cold callers or door-sellers offering deals.
Stay safe when buying
Don’t send bank transfers - pay by card to get extra protection and confirm the sellers return policy as well as who will pay for returning unwanted goods. 
If you’re not sure, seek more advice!
For more support visit, or contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.

Useful links 

Make sure the seller deliversDownload our 'Make sure the seller delivers' leaflet to have all our advice and tips on how to shop confidently handy in one place

First published 26 January 2024.

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