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World Consumer Rights Day: Three consumer rights you should know

Knowing your rights as a consumer is imperative for making the most out of your purchases and not falling into common traps such as getting tied into unwanted contracts. This is further complicated by the difference in consumer rights between countries, so we have compiled some of the main points to be aware of when it comes to your consumer rights whilst travelling and shopping online.

By Elena Carruthers. Published 15 March 2023.

1. Online shopping isn’t always protected

When online shopping, it’s easy to overlook the differences in policies between stores. All you have to do is click a few times and the product will show up at your door. Perhaps the only time we consciously think about the online store’s base location is when we experience particularly long delivery times, such as ordering something to the UK from China.

An important point to consider when shopping in the online space is whether your consumer rights are protected. For example, only 80 countries include consumer protection in their trade rules for online shopping. Much of the time, people get caught out on hidden fees, additional postage fees, and unclear returns policies. Under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, individuals’ purchases made via a credit card are protected even if a purchase is made abroad. However, this is limited to amounts between £100-£30,000.

2. Refund policies vary

Shopping online or abroad in another country can pose the threat of having different refund policies to what you might expect. This could mean items being non-refundable or having a short window for returning.

If you have any issues with your item, the Consumer Rights Act protects your purchase if the store is based in Europe. However, for anything outside Europe it’s worth researching the refund policies before purchasing to be on the safe side.

3. Consider sustainability

Sustainability isn’t only an ethical concern many of us have when it comes to shopping but is often closely tied to your rights as a consumer. Consumption and production are an essential part of building a more sustainable world, so a company’s sustainability policy is often going to largely reflect the extent to which it protects consumer rights. Sustainability relates to the efficiency with which resources for products are being used, so a strong sustainability policy is indicative of a smarter use of materials. Inefficient use of resources then means consumers are getting less value for their money. Naturally, a company’s approach to sustainability will vary between countries so it’s best to look up their sustainability approach on their website. If this isn’t clear and you want to dig a bit deeper, try looking into where the company sources its products from, and this should give you a clearer picture of its approach to sustainability.


Interested in a career in Consumer Law? Learn more about the routes into practise to become a Consumer Rights Lawyer.