Buying online is commonplace these days. Sure bricks and mortar stores can be shiny and dazzling, but you can’t beat the convenience of buying that much-longed-for dress while sitting in your PJs at 11pm.
Australians spent an estimated $37.8 billion online during the last financial year, with around four in ten of us buying at least one product online during an average four-week period. But there are still pitfalls to be aware of.
Not all online vendors operate on the right side of the law. And that law can be further open to interpretation depending on which country they’re based in. Once your purchase has been delivered and it doesn’t meet your expectations, often the returns process can be lengthy, painful, and ultimately without resolution.
Hands up who has an ill-fitting online purchase languishing in their wardrobes? Sometimes dealing with the admin associated with online returns is better consigned to the ‘too hard’ basket for your own sanity.
But my faith in online shopping has been restored.
Earlier this year I purchased a pair of ASICS sneakers from catchoftheday.com.au. ASICS is not my usual brand but I was facing five weeks in Europe and wanted a shoe that would be able to handle a lot of walking and bike riding and offer me support.
I picked them up for just $100 and put them away for my holiday. On departure day I laced them up and loved then . . . until just ten days into my trip when both shoes started ripping, rendering them no longer waterproof.
I was perplexed. Surely shoes are made to last more than ten days?
So I spoke to ASICS. I was in dire need of a pair of shoes and travelling with just hand luggage so couldn’t fit in a new pair.
They were really keen to help until they realised the shoes had not been bought from one of their stores. Now this is where it gets murky. According to ASICS, due to my shoes being bought from an online provider, they were likely to be parallel imports and not made to the same standards as ASICs sold in Australia.
This blew my mind. Surely branded items are made to the same standard globally? Apparently not . . . (and we’ll leave that story for a follow-up investigation).
So I limped along with my torn, shabby, shoes and once returned to Sydney, contacted catchoftheday directly. And they couldn’t have been more helpful. I was offered a choice of repair, replace or refund immediately. I opted for the refund btw.
I was compensated for having to return the shoes to them. And my complaint was handled online so I could keep track of where I was in the process. It couldn’t have been simpler.
And most impressive of all, it was all perfectly representative of the Australian Consumer Law and how it should protect consumers in these situations.