Online shopping gives you access to a huge range of goods and services. You can shop in the comfort of your own home, at any time of the day, compare prices and find the best deals. However, there are certain special considerations to take into account, because with online shopping, the buyer and the seller are not present at the same time when the transaction is made. Ask yourself the following questions before you place an order:
What do I know about the trader?
Does the trader state their name, address and telephone number on their website or just an email address?
- Never do business with traders who only disclose their email address or a PO box!
- An online address does not necessarily even tell you in which country the trader is based.
Also try googling the trader; you might find information about other buyers’ experiences on discussion forums.
Is the offer too good to be true?
If you come across an advertisement for a free product online, it is likely that the trader is actually trying to sell you something for which you will eventually have to pay. If, for example, you order a product sample or an introductory pack and pay for the postage by debit or credit card, the trader could then use your card details to withdraw extra payments from your account. Always read the terms and conditions of any product sample offers especially carefully. It is worth reading the terms and condition from start to finish, because the most important terms are often found scattered among the text or on the very last lines.
What can I find out about the product?
- Has the trader provided clear information about the product and its properties on the website?
- Does the product come with a warranty and where is the warranty valid? Can you get the product repaired under warranty in Finland?
- In what language is the user manual?
- Do the technical properties of the product make it suitable for use in Finland?
Is the price stated clearly?
- explain clearly what the product itself costs,
- itemise all charges associated with the order, and
- state the total price, including tax and delivery charges, in an unambiguous manner.
Are the delivery time and other delivery terms disclosed?
- Is the delivery time stated on the website?
- If it is not, you should try to agree a delivery time with the trader. Also always read all other delivery terms.
- Are the terms clear and understandable?
- Do they answer any questions you might have?
- For example, what is the procedure in the event that the goods turn out to be defective?
Has the trader provided information about a cooling-off period?
Consumers within the EU are entitled to a statutory 14-day cooling-off period in online shopping. Traders have an obligation to disclose information about:
- the cooling-off period or the fact that there is no cooling-off period
- the procedure for cancelling orders.
What methods of payment does the trader accept?
With online shopping, payment is usually made at the time of purchase. There may be several payment options available, some of which offer you extra protection while others can be very risky.
For more detailed information about different methods of payment, see Safe payments.
How will my personal details be used?
Check what the trader says about using buyers’ personal information for purposes such as direct marketing.
Think about what information you want to disclose about yourself.
Print and keep copies of everything!
Websites are updated constantly. Always keep a copy of:
- your order,
- the order confirmation,
- the terms and conditions,
- the product description or advertisement, and
- any correspondence between you and the trader.
Having these documents available will make any potential disputes considerably easier to resolve.
Does the trader have a “trustmark”?
Some traders belong to schemes that obligate them to abide by certain rules. These kinds of schemes can make it easier to resolve potential disputes. There are many different trustmark schemes and the level of protection they offer varies. If a company has a trustmark on their website, find out what its benefits are to you.
Is the product subject to special regulations or import restrictions?
The basic rule is that you can order products from other EU countries without having to pay customs duties. More information about customs duties, import restrictions and tax can be found on the website of Finnish Customs.