E-commerce has become the primary source of retail therapy for a large portion of the Australian population. In fact, more than $11 billion is being spent on online shopping every year. And with Christmas only a fortnight away, online retailers are expected to hit overdrive.

However despite this, research by NSW Fair Trading into the attitudes of Australian consumers and businesses towards online shopping reflects limited knowledge of security precautions. Specifically, a high proportion of consumers are not aware of basic online shopping rights, while many small to medium businesses fall short of providing basic security measures and shopping information when selling online.

If you are thinking about selling goods and services online, contact a website lawyer to help you via LawPath.

Outlined below are some important points of interest.

Online Shopping – What You Need to Know

Domestic v International

How often do you have to pick between buying a product from a domestic retailer at a significantly higher price when compared to an international retailer? You calculate the cost of shipping and run a cost-benefit analysis before finally coming to a decision. Yet extending beyond the basic arguments of free trade, did you know that buying from domestic retailers includes a fundamental benefit?

Buying goods or services online from businesses based in Australia means you are protected by the Australian Consumer Law. On the other hand, the ACL may not apply and can only offer limited protection to consumers who buy goods and services online from businesses based overseas. It is especially difficult to benefit from warranty or to obtain a refund, replacement or repair if the goods sold online from an overseas business is defective. As such, before purchasing from overseas, consumers should satisfy themselves that repair facilities and spare parts are reasonably available in Australia.

Buying from a Private Seller?

When buying from a private seller, it is important to recognise that the ACL doesn’t apply to goods and services not sold in trade or commerce in the normal course of their businesses. That said, regardless of whether you buy from a private seller or from a trader in the course of business, you are still guaranteed clear title on the goods.

Where there is a dispute which cannot be solved, the buyer may seek independent legal advice. If you require independent legal advice regarding consumer law, contact an experienced business lawyer via LawPath.

Responsibility of Undelivered or Damaged Goods

In order to determine who is responsible for undelivered or damaged goods in transit, consumers should read the delivery terms and conditions. These T&Cs usually explain how such issues are handled and who is responsible for undelivered or damaged goods.

Delivery Time

In addition to understanding the responsibility of both parties, consumers should also ensure they know the expected delivery time. If it is not outlined in the terms and conditions, the seller should be emailed for further clarification. Sellers should ensure they clearly outline the delivery time in their online terms and conditions. For further information on website terms and conditions, check out our legal guide here.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of whether you are a consumer or a small to medium business owner, it is essential to understand your rights and responsibility in the online retailing world.

For further guidance on how to protect and exercise your rights and responsibility, LawPath’s network of website lawyers can help you with your questions.

Want to learn more? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about your rights and responsibilities, obtain a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers and have your legal questions answered.

Ricky Chan

Ricky is a Paralegal working in our content team which aims to provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. With a keen interest in contract law, his primary research focuses on small businesses, and how they can better navigate complex legal procedures.