Buying from an online marketplace
What are online marketplace platforms?
There are many online marketplaces selling new and used goods.
An online marketplace is a website or app that allows you to buy from either other businesses or other consumers. Some types of marketplaces are not include, for example buying land from a marketplace.
From 29 November 2022, you have new rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2022 when you buy from an online marketplace.
Your rights when you shop on an online marketplace
Your rights depend on whether you are buying from a business or another consumer.
While you have extra protections when you buy online from a trader, this is not always the case when you buy from an individual consumer. The online marketplace must tell you if you are buying from an individual or a business.
If you buy from an individual consumer on an online marketplace this is similar to buying from a classified ad in a local paper and the principle of 'buyer beware' applies – see ‘What to look out for before you buy’ below.
What to look out for before you buy
Many online marketplaces don’t verify the products for sale. Make sure to do your research and pay securely.
You should always check:
- Who are you buying from, is it a business or another consumer? Different rights may apply (see above).
- Is the seller based in the EU or outside the EU? If outside the EU your rights may depend on the law where the seller is based.
- The general sales conditions of the online marketplace, if this includes the seller’s customer service for example.
- The returns policy,
- Whether the online marketplaces also offer a commercial guarantee that can cover you in cases of defective goods, late delivery and other issues. Check if this is free or for a fee.
- If the seller has customer ratings and reviews
- The delivery method and charges
Get more advice about how to avoid scams and fraud.
Information you must get before you buy
The operator of the online marketplace must give you certain information before you buy.
They must tell you:
- How they rank the results for your online search
- Whether the seller on the platform is a business or consumer
- That you are not protected by consumer law when the seller is a consumer
- That you are not protected by consumer law when the seller is a trader based outside the EU
- How consumer law obligations are shared between the operator of the online marketplace and the seller or business
You must get all the information above:
- Before the contract is agreed
- In plain English
- In a specific section of the website or app
If the online operator does not give you this information, it is breaching consumer law and can be prosecuted.
Where reviews are attached to a product, the website or app must set out what the website operator has done to verify that those reviews are by actual users of the product.
If the operated cannot do this, it may be guilty of a misleading commercial practice and can be prosecuted.
If things go wrong
If you have a problem with something you buy on an online marketplace, contact the seller first.
If you cannot resolve the problem
If you cannot resolve the problem or it is taking the seller too long to resolve your complaint, contact the marketplace to report the seller.
If you paid by credit or debit card, you can try to dispute the transaction.
Contact your bank or card provider to see if it will reverse the transaction (known as chargeback).
Read more about the Consumer Rights Act and what it means for you on the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) website.