A national campaign is urging residents in South Tyneside to find out about their rights when shopping online.
This year's National Consumer Week campaign, which runs until 22 November, is particularly relevant in light of the pandemic which has resulted in more people than ever before buying from online retailers.
In advance of this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the campaign is seeking to make people aware that their consumer rights are actually stronger when making a purchase online than when buying from the high street. This usually includes enhanced rights for returns for online purchases.
Residents are reminded that the following rules protect them when making purchases online:
- There is usually a 14-day cooling-off period in which you can change your mind and get a full refund
- If there is a problem with the item within the first 30 days, you could get a refund, replacement or repair
- If an item can't be repaired or replaced, in the first six months, in most cases, you are entitled to a full refund
However, rights change depending on whether the seller is a trader or a private seller and depending on the type of payment used. Credit card purchases usually have better protection.
Despite these protections, the Citizens' Advice Consumer Service has seen the level of complaints about internet shopping almost double between March and April this year compared to the same period last year.
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: "This year in particular has seen a surge in online shopping with people across the UK spending around £2billion a week on online purchases. However, with complaints on the rise, it is important that people know their rights so that they can protect themselves against unscrupulous sellers.
"With Christmas on the horizon, there are likely to be lots of people buying electrical goods online. Given that substandard electrical items run the risk of causing fire or electric shock, I would urge people to only buy from reputable and trusted stores or websites."
A video highlighting the key advice on buying goods online is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA75JeXrcu0
Anyone needing more help is asked to contact the Citizens' Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 2231133.or visit