So, you have found the product that you would like to buy. It’s the right size and shape, it has good reviews and even the negative ones don’t bother you, and all your new Facebook friends have got one. You’re ready to take the plunge but where to buy?
There are more options than ever. The big supermarkets often have partners who supply ‘online exclusive’ products you can order through the trusted name’s website: from perfume to summer houses. Although you may be able to collect in store, and the third party’s returns policy may be, though not always, in line with that of the larger retailer, often these items cannot be returned to the store. (Check the returns policy before you buy.)
New or Used?
If you cannot buy your goods from a major retailer, as is frequently the case for specialist products, you can verify the trustworthiness of the site you wish to buy from in a number of ways. A basic Google search of the site’s name with ‘reviews’ tagged on will lead to discussion threads, and, in the worst cases, news stories about that retailer. A more nuanced appraisal may be found in social media groups. Rica.org.uk carries lots of reviews of goods, services and retailers catering to older and disabled communities. Trustedshops.co.uk offers reviews and ratings of a large number of online retailers of all sizes.
Smaller outlets may not only charge for delivery but returns may be at the buyer’s expense too – and for larger items that can be costly indeed. This is, more often than not, the case when buying second hand goods. If you are considering buying a used item you may not be able to return it at all. There are, no doubt, advantages to buying second hand, cost being the most obvious. You are also, mostly, buying from an individual whom you can contact directly to ask questions and clarify policies. However, bear in mind, that person is still after a sale! Curated sites, such as eBay, allow and actively encourage customers to review sellers. Sellers using such sites are bound by terms and conditions and there is a means of redress, however slow and convoluted, should a dispute arise. This offers you more protection than, social media buy sell and swap groups or non-curated sites like Gum Tree.
You have made your purchase but it’s not quite what you wanted or it is faulty, broken or damaged. What are your rights? General but comprehensive information can be found at ConsumerRights.com. Every transaction is, essentially, a contract between you and the vendor who should be your ﬁrst port of call should a problem arise. This contract goes beyond providing goods or services of an expected quality at an agreed price. Any aftercare, advice or right of return promised or implied must be honoured. Appliances, for instance, have time limited warranties so, should your new washing machine, say, breakdown within the ﬁrst year, the manufacturer should repair or replace it free of charge. However, getting that arranged can be quite difﬁcult, especially for disabled people – as there may be barriers to accessing customer services. Not being able to access the promised aftersales beneﬁts is a breach of contract.
Make a Difference
Reviews are only as good as reviewers. Write honest appraisals of goods and services you have purchased be they good, bad or indifferent. Information helps and in this digital age, it’s up to us to provide it.