The volume of online shopping has mushroomed over the past few years. According to research by global management consultancy BCG, the "internet economy" contributed £121 billion to the overall UK economy in 2010. That means that just over 13% of all purchases were made online. This, in turn, has brought a huge rise in the use of UK based courier services to deliver all those goods.
There are many well-known and reputable shopping websites, but for anyone using one for the first time there are some basic precautions a buyer should take:
Consumers who buy online have rights, as with anyone who buys in a shop. The seller has a number of responsibilities:
Generally when buying online, the seller will choose which courier service delivers the goods. But the consumer may be given a choice of when their gift is delivered, although there may be an extra charge for this. Many online firms now use a tracking system so that the buyer can check online when the item will be delivered.
Most courier companies will not agree to just leave a parcel on someone's doorstep. So the buyer must either make sure they are in or ask a neighbour to accept the parcel. Some firms will allow the consumer to stipulate a secure place to leave the parcel, such as a porch or garage.
If the recipient misses the delivery, the courier will generally try a second time. But after that the buyer will be expected to go to the courier depot and pick it up themselves.
There are various useful sources of information with consumer advice about online shopping and delivery services. These include the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards.