Thursday 19 September 2019

Your Europe to the rescue after online shopping tale of Christmas woe

Last year, Christmas was almost ruined when my online shopping didn't arrive in time. Fortunately, I got it sorted, thanks to the Your Europe website.

The world of shopping, shopping online and especially shopping in a foreign country can be murky when it comes to your rights as a consumer. What are your rights? What if the product ends up not living up to my expectations, what if the product turns out to be faulty?

There are so many things that can go wrong when shopping online. We’ve all had problems with regard to delivery of something we bought online. Quite often products get damaged in transit or maybe even don’t get delivered at all. I had an experience of Santa Claus presents I’d ordered from an online shopping outlet in good time for Christmas not arriving until after Christmas. By which time I’d gone out and bought said gift in a real shop on Christmas Eve.

With an impending feeling of doom and barely suppressed panic, I braved the crowds in town the evening before Christmas to battle other equally traumatised parents for the one present that was going to make or break my child’s Christmas. I found it, but I may have lost several years of my life due to the stress of the whole thing.


When, in the New Year, my delivery arrived, it only added to my frustration. Not only had I added to the stress of preparing for Christmas, but this was the one year I had planned a month in advance, bought online with plenty of time for delivery. All in the vain hope having all gifts wrapped and stashed away well in advance.

I’m usually the one dashing about at the last minute, while my smug friends toast the festive season on Christmas Eve. It was to be different this year. Alas, my attempt to join the ranks of the well-organised and, more importantly, my chance at congratulating myself and feeling extra smug as I informed some other poor stricken parent with fear in their eyes on Christmas Eve, that everything was done, slipped through my fingers like sand.

So what was I to do with a present I already had? I hadn’t a clue about my rights as a consumer. I assumed that the usual rights would apply, that I only had the right to a refund if the product was faulty. This product was, as far as I could tell, perfectly fine. The problem was that it hadn’t arrived within the stipulated 30 days. So was I entitled to a full refund, and if so how was I to go about claiming it?


Your Europe to the rescue

The last thing I wanted to do was to contact a lawyer or the ombudsman, so a quick Google search brought me to Your Europe. Since the company I bought the product in was based in Germany, they were bound by the EU legislation on consumer rights that apply right across the European Union.

Your Europe is an EU website providing practical information and access to assistance services for people living, working, shopping, studying or travelling in or to another European country. This web portal centralises all useful practical information in one place for EU citizens seeking support and guidance about their rights, or wanting to avoid unnecessary inconvenience and red tape.

Your Europe, available in 23 EU languages), is divided into 2 sections on citizens and business, each with dedicated pages on numerous topics. Enter a keyword in the search box and you should find the answer to your question in just a few clicks.

The website also provides all the national contact points for each country on any given topic, as well as helpful links if you want to go even further in depth.

With Your Europe, I was informed that my rights as a consumer in the EU entitled me to a full refund because the product was not delivered in the stipulated 30 days. So when I contacted the company I purchased the product off I was able to quote the EU directive which outlines my rights: “Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights”

This saved me a lot of work in trying to understand EU law and my rights but also meant I didn’t have to find the expertise of a lawyer or consumer rights body.

There’s a wealth of information on Your Europe and it outlines in very clear and simple language all your rights and entitlements as a citizen of an EU country in Travel, Work and Retirement, Vehicles, Residence Formalities, Education and Youth, Health, Family and Consumers.

While our near neighbours are in the midst of the painful process of extricating themselves from the European Union, it’s is nice to be reminded of all the benefits we, as EU citizens will retain because or Ireland’s continued membership.

So in regards to my tale of Christmas woe? All is well that ends well, I did get a full refund, my daughter got her Christmas present and crisis was diverted.

This year, I’m DEFINITELY not leaving everything to the last minute. There are just 103 days left tile Christmas. You’ve been warned.

Find out more about your rights as a European citizen on Your Europe, the one and only official EU website that answers all your questions when travelling, moving, studying, working, retiring, shopping or doing business in the European Union. All your EU rights in one single place!

Your Europe - help and advice for citizens

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