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Edenbridge & Westerham Citizens Advice – Top Tips for Shopping Safely

New research from Citizens Advice finds that 23% of shoppers in the South East have experienced a problem with an item they’ve bought since October 2023. 

The charity’s study found that, nationally, consumers spent over £2 billion and six million hours – an average of £64 and 94 minutes per person – trying to fix these issues.  E.g. taking time off work to return a parcel within set hours, or racking up phone bills hanging on the end of a customer helpline.

Further analysis revealed top issues included: 

• Delivery issues (57%), with products arriving late (28%) or not arriving at all (27%);

• Consumers receiving defective goods (52%)

To help shoppers start 2024 clued up on their rights, Citizens Advice Edenbridge & Westerham is sharing its top tips to shop confidently. This advice is released in conjunction with the annual Consumer Awareness campaign, run by Citizens Advice in collaboration with the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP), which includes Trading Standards and the Department for Business and Trade.

Sian Hiller, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Edenbridge & Westerham, said:

It’s important that people are armed with the right knowledge to shop safely.  With budgets already stretched, none of us want to waste precious time or money on retail issues that could easily be avoided.  Everyone can be a consumer  champion when they have the right information.”

Top tips to help consumers shop safely this year:

1. Delivery problems

 It’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you.  Check the delivery address you gave the seller and contact them to ask where your order is. 

If the seller claims they’ve delivered it or don’t know where it is, you can ask for a redelivery. You might be able to get a refund in some circumstances.

2. Defective goods

If something has gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you might be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement. You’ll have legal rights if the item you bought is:

– broken or damaged (‘not of satisfactory quality’)

– unusable (‘not fit for purpose’)

– not what was advertised or doesn’t match the seller’s description”

3. What if I change my mind?

If you buy in store, you don’t have a legal right to return goods if you’ve simply changed your mind.  Many shops have their own policies so do check.

If you buy online you usually get a right to cancel, known as a cooling off period, but there are exemptions such as bespoke or personalised goods, and goods where the seal is broken.

4. Pay safe

Pay by card so you have another form of protection if there’s a problem, or by making a chargeback or section 75 claim to your card provider. 

Be cautious if you’re asked to pay in an unusual way – iTunes vouchers, crypto currency or bank transfer – this could be signs of a scam. 

5. Making a return

Get proof of your return – a receipt from a shop or proof of postage.  If you pay for return postage check the service you use covers the value of the goods.

Using a service that includes tracking means you can prove when a trader received your return. 

For information and advice, visit the Citizens Advice website:

Or call the specialist advisers at the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.