We’ve all made the occasional ‘impulse buy’ that we later regret. It’s part of our consumer society, and with so many sites now offering ‘buy with 1 click’ options, it’s all too easy to spend much more than you were planning to when making online purchases.
However, sometimes it’s not your fault that you bought that vintage hat off ebay, or a packet of 50 curtain rings from Amazon when you don’t have any curtains in the house. If you’ve left your browsers open and your tot gets hold of your device, you could find you’ve just bought a weather vane or a set of saucepans you don’t need or want. With touch screen technology on nearly all our mobile devices these days, even the cat walking across your tablet as it crosses the table could result in an unwanted purchase.
So what do you do if your kids – or your cat – accidentally clicks ‘buy it now’?
Cancel your order straight away
With online purchases, you have a surprising amount of power as a consumer. If you buy anything online, whether it’s a snorkel and flippers or an e-book, a subscription to a dating website or a motorcycle crash helmet, you have a 14-day ‘cooling off’ period when you can change your mind and cancel the purchase. However, it’s wise to act sooner rather than later, as once the product has been dispatched you may end up paying a considerable amount for postage and packaging to return the item. It will also take you longer to get your money back if you try to cancel the order after it’s been dispatched.
With major sites like ebay and Amazon, they recognise that mistakes do happen. The number of accidental online purchases on Amazon has rocketed since the introduction of ‘Alexa’ through Amazon’s Echo and Dot home devices. Again, you’re covered by the 14-day cooling off period, so mistakes can be rectified very quickly simply by going onto your Amazon account and cancelling the order.
Stop it from happening in the first place
With voice hubs like Alexa, the best thing you can do to avoid dealing with unwanted online purchases is to disable the feature completely. You can do this through the Alexa app and turn off the Voice Purchasing mode in your settings. This will stop any unauthorised purchases by small children or prankster friends.
Keep your browsers shut, so that children or pets can’t accidentally open an online shopping cart and start spending your latest pay cheque.
It’s too late – the giant 1920’s dolls’ house has arrived…
If you were unaware that purchases have been made on your account, then you can still cancel the order and return unwanted purchases for up to 14 days. However, on online auction sites like ebay, things can be a little different. If you buy something on ebay, it’s considered to be a contract and you are obliged to buy the item. If you think that the item has been bought by mistake by your child then you can contact the seller and be open and honest with them. In the majority of cases they’ll understand your situation and cancel the purchase.
If they don’t agree to cancel the transaction and you cancel any payment or refuse to pay for it, then you may end up with an ‘unpaid items’ mark on your account. Collect too many of these and you could end up being suspended from ebay. Again, the best thing to do is to never leave your ebay browser or app open where unauthorised users can get to it. Prevention, in this instance, is much better than cure.
The Consumer Rights Act
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (amended 2017), you have the right to cancel if an item is unwanted, has been ordered by mistake, or is faulty. If you do find that your kids have ordered you a new conservatory without your knowledge and the seller is demanding you honour the purchase, the best thing to do is to talk to a solicitor with experience in dealing with consumer rights. Large organisations like Amazon and ebay will usually offer to sort out the problem for you but if things do escalate, get legal representation as quickly as possible.