Consumers warned to be more careful when they shop online post-Brexit
Consumers will be warned to check the physical address of online companies before buying products over the internet if a no-deal Brexit occurs.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is assessing the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on households.
It had started a public awareness campaign to inform consumers of their rights when shopping online earlier this year, but dropped the initiative after Brexit was delayed. A spokesperson told the Irish Independent it is now considering when to recommence that campaign.
Central to its message will be the need for shoppers to know where they are purchasing clothing, technology and other products from.
UK-based stores will no longer be bound by EU regulations and therefore may change their existing policies on refunds.
There are fears that online purchases will be delayed in transit and subject to extra tariffs once the UK moves outside the EU. It will also be significantly more difficult to return unwanted items due to tax implications. Getting excise duty and VAT back will involve writing to the import station or mail centre where the goods arrived.
The Irish Independent contacted a number of popular websites including Asos and Amazon yesterday but they declined to comment on how they will treat Irish customers in a no-deal scenario.
"In terms of consumer rights when shopping online, consumers in Ireland have rights under the EU Consumer Rights Directive (CRD)," said a spokesperson for the CCPC.
"The CRD includes the right to a 14-day 'cooling off period' and in most cases (some types of purchases are excluded) this entitles a consumer to cancel the order for any reason within 14 days of delivery and get a full refund of the price paid and the standard delivery cost.
"Importantly, these regulations only apply when buying from an EU-based business. Once the UK leaves the EU, these regulations will no longer apply for UK-based traders."
European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee said consumers need to think about the new realities.
"I don't do it myself, but I know plenty of people who might order five or six dresses, they get them, they try them on and they send a few back. If you've already paid taxes on them, how do you negate that?
"You've also got the fact that they will no longer be under the same consumer protections and rights."