On Monday 21 November 2016, online sales in the USA surpassed $3 billion in a single day for the first time ever. This also represented a rise in online sales of 12.1% on the equivalent day the previous year. These milestones owe their existence to the phenomenon known as "Cyber Monday", the online-only equivalent to "Black Friday" on which consumers, fully rested after the Thanksgiving holiday, seek to take advantage of a combination of free time and retailers' desire to launch the Christmas shopping season and target consumers early by offering significant discounts across almost all retail products.
This trend has, in recent years, made its way across the Atlantic, and Irish consumers and retailers, like those in most other European countries, have, by choice or otherwise, adopted this modern tradition. Today, Irish consumers will be looking to find bargains online and many retailers, large and small are likely to oblige.
However, in the labyrinth of cut prices and quick deals, it is easy to forget the importance of consumer rights and online sale law. Consumers should be aware that transactions conducted online, irrespective of the level of discount applied, continue to be subject to consumer law and should be wary of wily online sellers who may seek to limit consumers' legal entitlements. Equally, however, online retailers may, in their enthusiasm in offering great deals, forget to vindicate consumer rights, the breach of which can lead to the consumer not being bound to the contract, sanctions from authorities and/or damage to reputation.
Below is a list of some of the primary rights attaching to online purchases in a personal or consumer context ("distance contracts") which are concluded electronically. Whilst this list is not exhaustive, it explains some of the key rights which may be overlooked during this busy time. These rights apply to the purchase of most goods and services online- there are some exceptions but suffice to say the scope of the relevant rules is broad.
Consumers must be provided with a range of information including (but not limited to): the main characteristics of the goods/services; identity and address (establishment and place of business) of the trader; arrangements for payment, delivery, performance, and time of delivery; any complaints handling policy; as well as all the information at no. 5 below. The above information must be in "plain and intelligible language". The seller's website must indicate...