Q&A: How has Brexit impacted online shopping?

Online shopping for Irish consumers has changed considerably due to the impact of Brexit, leaving people confused about what exactly they need to know before buying from the UK
Q&A: How has Brexit impacted online shopping?

There has been an increase in confusion about consumer rights due to Brexit. File photo

As a result of the UK leaving the EU, online shopping from the UK to Ireland has been impacted and changed considerably for Irish consumers.

These changes have caused confusion for online shoppers and it is more important than ever to understand where they are buying from and what consumer rights apply to them.

The Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has answered the most frequently asked questions about what consumers need to know before buying online.

I bought from a ‘.ie’ domain - does that mean it is Irish?

If the site has a ‘.ie’ or ’.eu’ domain, this is not always a sign of where a business is registered or based. The most important step to now take, is to check where a business is based before you make a purchase. You can do this by reading the business’s registered address in the terms and conditions (T&Cs) section of the website. If the registered address is outside of the EU, which now includes the UK, then your consumer rights may be different.

What extra charges and taxes should I be aware of?

From 1 January, all online shopping orders received from the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) are subject to Irish VAT and customs charges, depending on the value and the type of items purchased. Before ordering from outside the EU, check the T&Cs to find out what VAT and import charges you may have to pay. Goods imported from the UK (excluding NI) that cost €22 or less (including shipping, delivery, insurance and handling charges) will see no additional charges. If your goods are €22, VAT is payable, and if your items cost €150 or more, customs duty and VAT is payable.

If I buy from an EU website and don’t want to pay extra charges, do I have a right to be refunded?

If you are buying from an EU website, then you should be told about any additional costs before you make a purchase. If you are not happy to pay additional charges, you can exercise your right to be refunded. If you make a purchase and, upon delivery, you are advised of additional charges and you are not happy to pay them, you can choose to refuse to pay the charges and the purchase will then be returned to the sender.

If I buy from the UK, do I have the same consumer rights as buying from the EU?

If you buy from an EU-based business you have strong consumer protections, which ensures that you have enough, clear information and are not misled before you make a purchase. Importantly, it ensures that you have rights if something does go wrong – particularly the right to a refund. Buying from a non-EU website means that these rights do not automatically apply and therefore if something does go wrong it may be more difficult to get the issue resolved.

I’ve bought from a UK website - do I still have the right to return a purchase?

If you are buying from a non-EU website, including a UK website, you may not automatically have the right to return a purchase, or the timeframes for returns may have changed. Always check T&Cs to find out what it says about their returns policy. 

I’ve bought from a business online within the EU, and I’ve not received my goods within the timeframe they told me it would arrive. Is the business responsible to follow up on this?

If you buy from an EU website (unless you have agreed an alternative delivery date with the business) your purchases should be delivered within 30 days. If a business does not deliver it to you within the timeframe agreed they should either agree to a different date or cancel the contract in which you should receive a refund. A business is responsible for a purchase until it is delivered to you, unless you organised your own delivery.

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