All your usual consumer rights apply when you shop with an Australian online business. Those rights may also apply when you buy from an overseas online business although you might find it difficult to get a repair, replacement or refund because the business is not based in Australia.
Online businesses selling goods and services must:
- ensure products and services meet Australian safety regulations
- not mislead you or hide costs and other details from you
- compete fairly to ensure a variety of choices on quality and price
- give you automatic guarantees with the right to ask for a repair, replacement, refund, cancellation or compensation as appropriate if there is a problem
- have the right to sell you a product–it mustn’t be stolen and must belong to the business or individual and not come with any outstanding debts.
If you buy from an online seller based overseas, you should be aware that you may experience practical difficulties in obtaining a remedy from them.
If your seller is based overseas and writing to them doesn’t resolve your problem, try asking the consumer protection agency in their country if it can help.
Our Scamwatch website provides tips on how to spot online shopping scams.
Also, you should be aware of your rights when buying parallel imports online (i.e. products that you buy from a seller who does not have specific permission from the manufacturer to sell those products in the Australian marketplace).
These tips will help protect your rights when shopping online.
- Only consider buying from online sellers in Australia or overseas that:
- have a good reputation
- display clear processes for solving problems and giving replacements and refunds
- display clear systems for protecting the security and privacy of your personal and financial details
- display their business registration number, phone and fax numbers and physical address.
- Before buying, check terms and conditions carefully so you know what you’re paying for and that there are no hidden costs or restrictions.
- Before you start, ensure your computer, tablet or phone is secure by installing or updating security and anti-virus software.
- Shop around. Ask questions and ask for pictures so you know what you are getting. Compare prices on different sites.
- Before paying:
- beware of sellers asking for your bank PIN or password. Never buy from these sellers. Report them to the ACCC.
- check that the site is secure. It should have a padlock symbol and an address starting with https://
- ensure that you can check the progress of your order online
- consider using a third-party escrow agent to pay for valuable items as they’ll hold the payment in trust until you receive and accept the item.
- Keep copies of all documents, including electronic records of auction bids, item descriptions, emails and receipts in case there is a problem later.
- If there is a problem, email the seller outlining the issue and how you want it resolved.
- If you paid by credit card and you did not receive the product or service, contact your bank and ask them to reverse an unauthorised charge.
We explain how to be a smart shopper online with the help of a few of your favourite memes.