TOP TIPS FOR IRISH ONLINE SHOPPERS

Watch out for some of the challenges Irish shoppers have to face when buying online:

1. Beware of excessive shipping charges. Check the shipping costs to Ireland. Anywhere from €4/£4 up to €10/£10 is typical, depending on the weight or number of goods purchased. Also, watch out for some websites which may display a relatively low initial shipping price … but the weight allowances are very low.

2. Buy in bulk to avoid excessive delivery charges. Obvious but sometimes overlooked.

3. With some websites, you will be able to pay in € Euros only. The advantage of this is that you will know the exact cost … and some shoppers value this highly. The disadvantage is that the retailer has already converted the price from a € or $ price at a pre-set, higher conversion rate. So look at the price in Sterling or dollars before you buy – and compare it to the Euro rate being charged.

4. If you are buying clothes at a sterling or $ dollar price, your credit card company will convert the price to Euro at the currency conversion rate of the day (e.g. to be seen on Yahoo currency converter) and will add their margin (e.g. around 2.5%-3%). When you credit card company does the conversion, this is generally the best price you are going to get. The disadvantage is that you won’t know the exact amount until the amount appears on your credit card bill.

5. Will the goods be delivered from within the EU? If not, you are likely to have to pay Customs, VAT and Excise charges, which you will have to pay to An Post or a courier company like DHL or Fedex before they deliver your goods.

6. If you have to return the products, where will you return them to? To an Irish postal address or a UK one? Returning items to Ireland is a lot cheaper.

7. How long do you have to return goods? Check the Returns policy. Using the Irish postal service, could you return goods within the specified time?

8. Know your consumer rights. You can learn more from the National Consumer Agency, the Consumers Association of Ireland or the European Consumer Centre.

9. Make sure the website is displaying an International Customer Service telephone number. It’s amazing the number of sites which only provide 1800 numbers that can only be dialled from within the UK. The “ex-UK” telephone numbers are often well hidden deep in the website; once found, make a note of them, because it is often very difficult to find that right number again.