Critical online shopping tips from Wendy Knolwer from Consumerwatch

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Seeing is believing – but seeing on a computer screen can be difficult

When buying goods online, you always run the risk of being unpleasantly surprised upon delivery. If you are guided by photos and descriptions, you will never be able to physically see or interact with a product. Therefore, when you buy online, you are given a cooling-off period within the meaning of the Electronic Communications and Business Transactions Act.

This means that you have one week from the delivery date to change your mind and return it (at your own expense if the company does not cover these costs) for a refund.

READ MORE: Get Your Full Refund Back As Events And Bookings Are Canceled

It doesn’t have to be defective in any way and you don’t have to give a legal reason – you just say within 7 days that you don’t want it. You don’t have that “out” when you buy something in a shop. Only if it breaks in any way within six months of purchase through no fault of your own do you have the right to return it for a refund – or replacement or repair; your decision.

Tessa recently bought some items from Weylandt’s Umhlanga – including a table that has been reduced to around 10,000 rentals due to scratches.

She was happy with all of the things when they were delivered to her except the table – it was smaller than she had thought.
It turned out that the table wasn’t in the store the day she bought it – the shop assistant showed it to her online

The store charged an 11% processing fee for taking back the table and waived the customary 20% additional fee due to miscommunication. And that is completely legal, because dealers are not obliged to take back “changes of meaning” bought in the store and can, if they so wish, impose any conditions.

READ MORE: Event cancellations are high, be careful with advance bookings – Wendy Knowler

However, since Tessa had seen the store’s computer screen rather than the table in the store, it occurred to me that the purchase was essentially an online purchase.

So she should have taken a cooling off period, which means she could pay to have the table shipped back to the store and get a full refund.

It turned out that I was wrong about that. Listen and take note of the lesson here …


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