Buying goods over the internet
It can be more difficult to judge whether a business is reputable over the internet compared to going into a store. It is therefore important to gather enough information about the business to feel confident in dealing with them. When shopping on-line, check the:
- trader identification, including the legal trading name and registered address, a physical trading address, phone number and Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Business Number (ABN) (you can check an ABN at abr.business.gov.au, and registered state and national business and company names at www.asic.gov.au)
- contact details should be included where a business is claiming membership of an industry association or compliance with a voluntary code of practice
- costs, including handling and delivery costs
- delivery date or maximum delivery period - check whether the goods will be delivered to your door or a post office
- privacy statement that explains how the business deals with your personal information - some businesses may use it for marketing purposes, some may even sell your personal details to others, and this could lead to unsolicited and unwanted emails
- security of your credit card details when provided over the internet - ensure that the trader's website details the security system used
- statements outlining your warranty, returns and refund rights
- dialogue boxes that appear - read them prior to filling them in and don't just click 'ok'
- online payment system allows you to print and keep your online receipts.
Goods and services offered should be described clearly and in sufficient detail. Contact the trader to clarify any questions you may have before you buy.
A website can disappear from the internet without warning, so it is wise to print any forms that have been filled in and keep a copy of any emails sent and received. Also, print the web page that details the offer and any promises made. Keep copies of the documentation as proof of the purchase, in case anything goes wrong. Also, be wary of postage type, especially in private sales and sales or purchases where fragile products are involved.
The Australian Consumer Law does not apply to overseas traders.
When dealing with a trader located outside Australia, look for statements about which country's laws apply. It will probably be the laws of the country in which the trader is located. If the trader is operating outside Australia, check which currency applies and the current exchange rates. Also find out if any tax (GST) or import duty is applicable in Australia. If the retailer is overseas and you cannot resolve a problem, then you may need to contact the relevant consumer affairs agency in the country where the business is located.
Ensure the computer you use to shop online with has up-to-date security, including a firewall, virus and spyware protection. Otherwise it is possible that every key stroke you enter can be logged and your personal details stolen to be used for fraudulent purposes, including identity theft.