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Black Friday: ‘I’m a novice as an online shopper. What should I watch out for?’

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Shop safely online for Christmas gifts. Stock Image.

Shop safely online for Christmas gifts. Stock Image.

Shop safely online for Christmas gifts. Stock Image.

Q I have a smaller budget for presents this Christmas than I did last year. I’m hoping to get my shopping done early so I don’t end up overspending on impulse buys on Christmas Eve. I’m planning on doing some internet shopping on Black Friday on November 25 to get some bargains. However, I haven’t shopped online much before and I don’t know which websites to trust. What do I need to watch out for?

Peter, Westport

A The first thing to check is which country you’re buying from: you have stronger rights if the business is based in Ireland or elsewhere in the European Union. A website with a .ie domain does not necessarily mean the seller is based in Ireland, so search for a physical address for the business -- a useful way to do this is by checking the “About” section of the site or the very bottom of the homepage.

Different consumer rights and potential customs charges apply when shopping with a business based in the UK or anywhere else outside the EU. If you’re buying from an EU seller, they’re responsible for your purchase until it is delivered to you (unless you’ve organised your own delivery). If it is not delivered, the seller must organise a replacement or a refund.

If you buy something online and then change your mind, you have a 14-day cooling-off period from the day you receive the item to cancel your order. You have a further 14 days to return the item and get a full refund.

Check delivery times for your order, too: businesses must deliver your purchases within 30 days, unless they make an alternative timescale clear to you before you buy.

If you discover a fault with the product within 30 days of delivery, you have the right to return it for a refund. Some businesses may offer a refund, an exchange or a credit note – this differs from business to business, so check their terms before buying.

Finally, make sure to shop around to ensure your deal really is a deal. Try not to be too influenced by discounts advertised online; consider if it represents good value for money to you.

Compare prices based on the exact model or features of the product, and remember that for certain sales online you will also need to factor in delivery costs.

‘I’ve delayed closing my Ulster Bank account. How do I start finding a new bank?’

Q I have a current account with Ulster Bank and as they are exiting the market, I need to switch my account in the coming weeks. I’ve been putting this on the long finger as I’m not sure where to start. Can you help?

Fiona, Athlone

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A Try to complete the switching process as soon as possible because Ulster Bank has indicated it intends to start freezing certain accounts soon. These are the steps to follow.

Pick a new provider

Think about what you require from your new provider. How often do you withdraw cash? Do you need or want access to a branch in your locality? Do you need an overdraft, a joint account, or mobile banking? The answers will help you decide what type of current account best suits you.

Use the comparison tool on our website (ccpc.ie) to help you choose.

Open your new account

Your new provider will let you know how to open an account. This usually involves an application form that can be filled in online. You’ll need proof of your identity and proof of your address.

If you’re considering an overdraft, your new provider will do a credit check. The new provider should provide you with full details of your new account, such as your IBAN and BIC.

Prepare to switch

Review your bank statements for the previous 12 months and list all the payments that will go in and go out of your new account.

Incoming payments may include your salary, while outgoing payments may include direct debits and standing orders.

Switch

Using your list of incoming and outgoing payments, give your new IBAN to anyone who pays into your account, such as your employer or the Department of Social Protection, and to anyone who takes payments out of your account through direct debit, standing order or recurring payments.

Ulster Bank will tell you how to close your account.


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