Be careful when buying online

It can be a good idea to do your research before you buy online. Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Buying online can be a convenient and cost-effective way to shop, but it can be more difficult to work through if things go wrong.

It can be a good idea, therefore, to do your research before you buy. Asking friends for recommendations, searching the seller online, reading customer reviews and comparing prices from different sites can all help you make a good purchase.

It is a good idea to check for trader details – does the trader have a physical address and phone number?

Remember that if you are buying from a private seller, goods may be cheaper, but you have less protection under the law, and if buying from overseas, you need to be especially careful as you have no protection under New Zealand law.

Finally, read the product description and terms and conditions carefully – particularly in relation to returns policy. It is safer to pay by credit card or third party service such as Paypal, as this gives more protection than cash transfer – in some cases, if the goods do not arrive, the transaction can be reversed.

So what protection do you have if something does go wrong?

When you buy from a New Zealand retailer, your purchase is covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). This means that the seller is responsible for ensuring that the goods are delivered on time, match their description and are in acceptable condition.

If you are buying from a private seller, the CGA does not apply, but you can still look for a remedy through the Disputes Tribunal. If you buy from overseas, you have little protection, although reputable companies will generally be helpful as they want to keep their good name.

  • This Solutions Column has been compiled by Mary and is a regular Times editorial from the Pakuranga Citizens Advice Bureau. Email enquiries.pakuranga@cab.org.nz or visit us at the Library Building, Pakuranga (only at Alert Level 1), Phone 576 8331 and at Botany Citizens Advice Bureau, rear Food Court entrance, Botany Town Centre, Phone 271 5382 or 0800 367 222 for free, confidential and informative help.