What are your rights when buying on online marketplaces?

What are your rights when buying on online marketplaces?

author: Helen Fox

By Helen Fox

Shopping on online marketplaces is great… until something goes wrong.

When there’s a problem with your purchase, it can be difficult to get help and find out if you’re entitled to a refund.

To help debunk this difficulty, we’re explaining your rights on online marketplaces so you know where you stand.

Online marketplaces aren't fully covered by legal regulations

There are two laws that cover you when you buy things online. They are the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

On platforms like Vinted or Facebook Marketplace, it’s more likely that you’ll be buying from a private seller – someone who’s using the platform just as you are. And if this is the case, many parts of the consumer regulations don’t apply. 

You do still have some statutory rights

Because many parts of the law don't apply when you buy from a private seller, your statutory rights are very limited. But that doesn't mean you have no rights at all. You still have the right to receive the item you bought. You also have the right to receive an item that's 'as described'.

Your right to receive the item you paid for

This right covers you if:

  • The item gets lost in the post or delivered to the wrong address.
  • You receive the wrong item.
  • Your purchase is damaged in transit.

If one of these things happens, it's usually up to the seller to refund you, not the courier. The seller can then take the issue up with the courier to recover the item or get reimbursed for their loss.

Your right to receive an item that's 'as described'

For an item to be 'as described' might seem like a simple requirement. But it's not always straightforward and can be open to interpretation.

Private sellers aren't allowed to misrepresent goods. But they don't have to tell you about every fault with an item either.

For example, they can't:

  • Describe a second-hand jacket as new.
  • Tell you a laptop is in full working order when some functions are broken.
  • Say a scarf is a designer brand when it's a high-street dupe.

But they can use vague descriptions, such as explaining that an item is "used" or has "some marks" on it. Your idea of what an item with "some marks" looks like might differ from the seller's.

If an item has been misrepresented or isn't 'as described', then you may be entitled to a refund.

Many online marketplaces have their own policies to boost your rights

Online marketplaces aren't required to follow the Consumer Rights Act 2015. But many of them have their own policies to boost your rights. These are:

  • Vinted's Buyer Protection fee. This applies to all items purchased through them. It's calculated based on the cost of your purchase and is paid during checkout.
  • Facebook's Purchase Protection policy. This automatically applies to all items purchased using "checkout on Facebook". There is no extra charge for this protection.
  • eBay Money Back Guarantee. This applies automatically, at no extra cost. To be eligible, purchases must have been completed and paid for on eBay using a credit or debit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal.
  • Depop Protection. This applies to all purchases made using Depop Payments (card payments, Apple or Google Pay, or Klarna). It's included in the marketplace fee you pay. You can claim under Depop Protection if you pay by PayPal, but you will need to claim under PayPal's policies first. Only if they deny your claim can you use Depop Protection.

These policies and services are designed to help if you're struggling to get a refund directly from the seller. The marketplace team can step in and issue your refund if:

  • An item doesn't arrive.
  • Your purchase arrives broken, damaged or faulty.
  • The item is significantly different from how it was described.
  • You receive the wrong item.

It's important that you check the details of your marketplace's policy and follow the correct process to claim. For example, you may need to provide evidence of your issue, wait a certain amount of time before claiming, or have attempted to solve the issue with the seller before contacting the marketplace's team.

If you use online marketplaces, you do so at your own risk

Ultimately, if you buy or sell on online marketplaces, you're doing so at your own risk. But there are things you can do to make sure your experience is a good one. Here are our tips:

  • Keep all contact inside the marketplace platform. You won't qualify for any protection offered by online marketplaces if you take your dealings with the seller 'offline'. So, keep all your messages and transactions with them inside the marketplace platform. This includes only using recommended or authorised payment methods.
  • Ask questions. Before you buy something, ask questions to make sure you understand its condition. If the seller's description and photographs are vague, this can help you get a better idea of any damage. Then, you're less likely to find that the item isn't 'as described'.
  • Use verification services where they're offered. If you're buying a designer item, then getting it verified or authenticated is a good idea. Verification services are available on Vinted and eBay but may come at an additional cost. On platforms that don't provide this, you can ask the seller for proof of the item's authenticity.
  • Request trackable postage. Some marketplaces require sellers to use trackable postage or couriers. Of those that don't, it may still be an option you can select or request. Making sure the parcel is tracked provides easy proof that an item has been sent or delivered.
  • Be on the lookout for scams. Scammers creating fake listings or selling counterfeit goods occasionally sneak through marketplaces' anti-fraud measures. This is a particular problem on Facebook Marketplace. Find out more about marketplace scams so you know what to look out for.








Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.

What are your rights when buying on online marketplaces? What are your rights when buying on online marketplaces?