Internet Auctions

If you purchase goods on the Internet, your consumer rights are slightly different. Many people use eBay to purchase goods and you should be aware of your legal position.

When purchasing goods through Internet auctions, such as eBay, it can be risky and in certain circumstances you may have fewer rights than usual. This depends on whether the seller is a private seller or business seller.

Private Sellers

If you purchase goods through an Internet auction, such as eBay, it is usually classed as a private seller. You should bear in mind that the contract is not with the Internet auction but directly with the seller themselves.

Due to this, you only have the right to return and receive a refund if the goods purchased do not match the description given by the seller or that it was not legally owned by the seller at the point of sale.

As it is a private sale, the seller is not bound by the law requiring goods to be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.

Business Sellers

If the seller in the Internet auction is a business seller, you have more rights if it transpires that the goods are faulty. If the goods are faulty you have a right to:

1. Have the faulty goods repaired
2. Have the faulty goods replaced
3. A full refund.

Sellers Outside The Uk

The United Kingdom consumer rights are generally applied if you have purchased goods online in Internet auctions. However, this is not the case if the trader has specifically stated that they are trading from a different country.

If you intend on buying goods from a seller’s eBay page, it will have the location of the product on the product description page. All traders should state which law is applicable on their website or in any contracts that are agreed in an Internet auction.

Hints And Tips

It is more complicated if there is a dispute following a purchase on an Internet auction due to the distance. Before you bid in an Internet auction:

1. Assess the seller’s reputation via feedback ratings
2. Research the goods to check their normal selling price and be wary of a price that appears to be too low
3. Request whether you can inspect the goods before you bid
4. Ensure you know what payment the seller will accept
5. Avoid sending cheques or money orders before you have actually received the goods
6. Check for any hidden costs such as postage or insurance and converse with the seller if it is not clear.

Winning Bids

Once you have placed a bid on an Internet auction, you have agreed to purchase the goods if your bid is the winning bid. If you win an auction and then change your mind or cannot pay, the seller has the right to complain to the Internet auction website.

If the seller then sells the goods for a lower price, they could claim the difference in profit from you in Court.

How To Resolve Issues

If there is an issue regarding goods that you have purchased through an Internet auction, your first port of call should be the seller. If you do not receive a response from the seller or do not agree with their response, you should make a complaint in writing to the Internet auction website.

Particular Internet auction websites, such as PayPal, offer a complaint process if there is a dispute between the buyer and seller. Furthermore, they tend to offer a guarantee against fraud. This means you can usually have your money refunded if you have been charged for goods you didn’t order or received.

It is best to inspect the Internet auction website, or payment service’s website, to determine whether your sale is covered and how to make a complaint. If you have purchased the goods using a credit or debit card, you may be able to make a claim against the finance company to recover your loss.

If you have tried all of the above and you are still not getting anywhere, then the only option available is to consider taking the seller to Court for breaching your consumer rights. Here at Seatons, we can provide legal advice on your consumer rights and provide assistance from start to finish if it is appropriate to take Court action.

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Adam Cresswell - Seatons Solicitors

Consumer Law Specialists

Hello, my name is Adam Cresswell and I’m here to help with all your consumer law needs.

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Please contact us at either our Corby office on 01536 276300 or our Kettering office on 01536 311690 or contact us online.

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