Buying from overseas retailers – Resolver’s top tips

2 min read
December 02, 2020

Problems with orders from other countries are a fast-growing area of complaint, as more international firms target your wallet through online websites and social media advertisements.

It can be hard to tell, particularly if you are buying from a retailer on an online marketplace, whether a company is based in the UK or not. And just because a firm is not based in the UK, it doesn’t mean it’s not legit.

But buying from an overseas retailer means your rights under UK law for returns and refunds diminish. Bear in mind that it can take weeks (or longer) to get the goods too, so be cautious about ordering in December if you want Christmas gifts on time. 

Resolver’s guide will give you the key things to look out for and how to ensure you have a safe, hassle-free shopping experience buying from overseas sellers. Take a look at the questions to ask yourself to ensure a safe, hassle-free shopping experience.

Does the company have a UK website?

If you are concerned, look for a UK address – and where possible confirm in writing that the company is sending from the UK if so. Bear in mind that just because a company has ‘UK’ in its name, that it can still be based overseas. This can apply to even large websites or sellers on sites such as Amazon Marketplace.

Are prices in pounds sterling?

If not, you will be charged the exchange rate at the point the retailer debits you, and this can fluctuate. You may also pay import taxes, bank or credit processing charges on top so check to make sure you know what you are paying for upfront.

What about delivery?

It’s likely that deliveries from international sites will take longer or that the shop will charge more for a faster delivery time. Also bear in mind that if your delivery date is stated as ‘estimated’ it most definitely is not a guarantee that it will turn up on that specific day. Often you won’t get the estimated delivery date until just before you are about to click to pay, so keep an eye out before you commit to buy.

What’s the returns policy?

You won’t be entitled to the same cancellation and returns rights that you have when ordering from within the UK. Bear in mind that returns can also be difficult and expensive even from home-shore websites, so check the policy on the seller’s website carefully. You should also be on the lookout for direct contact details and clear instructions on how to return goods, just in case you need to. 

Should I pay by credit card?

Paying by credit card is advised as if something goes wrong and you’re getting nowhere with a resolution you can ask your credit card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (if the goods cost more than £100 or less than £30,000). You can of course use services such as Paypal but your right to claim under Section 75 will not apply.

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