Deliveries, charges, returns and tax - avoiding the pitfalls of shopping online
While there are many benefits in doing your shopping online, there are plenty of hazards for the unwary consumer
There’s nothing new about online shopping, but it seems that 2013 was the year when it really went mainstream in Ireland – with chains such as Dunnes Stores and Brown Thomas offering their wares for sale online for the first time. The public responded, with about three-quarters indicating they would do at least some of their Christmas purchases online.
But while the benefits of online shopping are many – no queues, no pushy sales assistants, no closing times – it also has its downsides. And we’re not just talking about the mountains of packaging that have not yet found their way from your house to the recycling centre.
Paying for, and receiving delivery of, goods can cause some headaches, as can returning the goods if you’re not happy with them, or if they’re faulty. So what do you need to know to make the whole process that little bit easier and avoid any pitfalls?
How can I make delivery easier
First up is understanding the delivery process. If it’s convenient ordering goods online, the downside can be receiving your goods. If they come through the normal post, you may not be at home which will necessitate a trip to your local An Post depot during business hours. Or, if they have to be signed for by a courier you will have to arrange another delivery time if you miss the first, which can be cumbersome. If
you keep missing delivery times, it may lead to additional charges.
To help with this, M&S says that you don’t have to sign for packages purchased from its site. That means that you it can be put through your letter box or, if it’s too large, left with your neighbour if you’re not at home. Failing this, it will be sent to your local post office or delivery depot where you can pick it up.
Littlewoods goes one further and allows you to indicate where you would like the package delivered if you are not at home, eg the front porch, garage or greenhouse. However, it does add the following caveat: “We cannot accept delivery instructions to leave parcels over fences, over gates, on doorsteps, through open windows, in any form of bin/cupboard or wheelie bin, in gardens or exposed to the elements.”!
Are there any
If you want to collect parcels at your own convenience, you could consider using a Parcelmotel. Parcelmotels are now located all around the State, from Carton Business Park in Kildare to Topaz Ballincollig in Cork and Tesco Tullamore in Offaly, as well as a number in Dublin. They simply store your package until you are ready to collect it.
When the delivery arrives to your chosen Parcelmotel, you will get a text message notifying you of its arrival. You can collect it at any time with your phone and PIN number. The cost is €3.50. That means that if you order from Zara, for example, and pay €3.95 for delivery, the total cost to you will be €7.45. On the other hand, if you can avail of a free delivery offer such as from Asos, you will only have to pay the €3.50 charge.
Another way to keep costs down is to give Parcelmotel’s Belfast address when ordering from a UK site – if it offers free UK delivery. Then you will only have to pay the €3.50 charge to get delivered to your local ParcelMotel site. But watch the small print. If you can’t collect the goods within two days, a further €3.50 charge will apply. Alternatively, you can get it delivered to another address for €10.50.