Your rights if your summer buys are delayed

4 min read
June 07, 2021

From builder supplies to gazebos and spas, it’s being reported today that up to 60% of UK retailers are experiencing import delays, with four out of five expressing concerns they’ll run out of stock within a month.

Because of the impact of the pandemic and reduced production, increasing consumer demand and other factors such as Brexit bureaucracy and even the Suez canal blockage, import delays and challenges with meeting customer demand are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Here are a few tips to try and beat delays or shortages – and a recap of your consumer rights if you’ve ordered goods that don’t turn up.

How to beat the shortages

We live on a collection of islands, so no matter how canny you are, the reality is, some things will just take a little longer. You’ll need to think of that before you commission builders to do some work in your home – don’t pay cash in hand or you’ll face a battle in the courts if the work doesn’t get done. If you are a DIY buff, then plan everything out, but don’t start knocking down walls just yet.

However, you might be able to get goods through other means. Recent reports of liquidation sales of businesses that have gone bust in the pandemic can lead to a few bargains for some of the more in-demand items, such as garden furniture. There’s also a huge and thriving market for the resale of goods both ‘like new’ and used (think beyond eBay). Aim for sites that specialise in certain sectors, like camping goods, for example.

Pop yourself on a reserve list if you don’t mind waiting for a bit. It’s likely that many people will cancel orders due to timescales not being met, so make sure you’re first in the queue. This will be easier if you build a relationship with a local shop – and it helps the local economy too.

Or why not chat with your friends and neighbours? Some people have gone a bit upgrade-mad over lockdown, so if there’s a hot tub or camping set that’s barely been used, you could head it off before it goes back to the skip for a much cheaper price.

Shopping – a recap of your rights

The Consumer Rights Act gives you the bulk of your shopping rights. The act covers goods and services and whether they are of ‘satisfactory quality, as described or fit for purpose’. If the goods you buy don’t fit into these categories you can seek a refund, replacement or repair depending on when things go wrong.

In addition, if the item was bought online or on the phone then you have, from the point of purchase and up to 14 days after the items have been delivered, to cancel under the Consumer Contract Regulations (2013)

Buying in-store is different and will depend on the shop’s policy, though many will offer refunds. Check your receipt to see how long you have to take something back – and in what circumstances.

The 30-day rule

You are entitled to expect your goods to be delivered on the agreed date that you were given when your order was placed. If no date was given or agreed, the seller must get your purchases to you within 30 days of the order being placed. 

If this does not happen, you are entitled to a full refund and if you paid a supplement for a specified time or date of delivery, you can ask for this back. 

 Goods bought from retailers abroad

Problems with orders from other countries are one of the fastest growing areas of complaint, as more and more foreign firms target your wallet through online websites and social media advertisements.

If a firm is based overseas it doesn’t mean it’s not legit – but your rights under UK law for returns and refunds diminish. Bear in mind that it may take weeks (or longer) to get the goods too, so be very cautious about ordering if you want your items within a tight timeframe.

Returns can also be difficult and expensive. So before you buy from a non-UK firm, check:

  • If they have a UK website: look for a UK address and confirm in writing that they are sending from the UK.
  • If the prices are in pounds sterling: If it’s not you pay the exchange rate at the point the firm debits you, so it can fluctuate quite a bit. You will probably pay bank or credit card processing charges too.
  • The seller’s returns policy: and how to make contact if something goes wrong.
  • If there will be extra charges: particularly import taxes and duties when the goods enter the country.

Resolver helped sort out over a quarter of a million online shopping complaints last year. Get help and find out more about your rights at

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