What are your refund rights?

If you love to shop online or on the high street, it helps to know your consumer rights. Here are your return and refund rights and how to get back what you’re owed.

The law and your rights

Whenever you shop in Ireland, The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980 protects you and outlines the seller’s responsibilities and your rights.

In brief, the Act states goods must be:

  • of saleable quality, e.g. match the quality and performance of other goods of the same type
  • fit for purpose, e.g. match how other goods of the same type are used
  • as described, e.g. match any description given by the seller

Under Irish law, you have six years from the purchase or delivery date to request a refund, replacement or repair if the goods you bought don’t meet these conditions.

Is any type of shopping covered?

No, you need to be buying a product or service for your personal use from a trader who sells goods or services for a living.

Your contract is with the seller, not the manufacturer, so any issues should be reported to the seller or shop you bought the goods from.

What kinds of sales don’t count?

The act doesn’t cover these types of sales:

  • Buying from a private individual who doesn’t make a living from trading*
  • Buying goods for your business rather than personal use
  • Buying from a trader based outside the EU

*Goods must still be ‘as described’ when you buy from a private individual

What to do if an item is faulty

If the item doesn’t work as it should and is faulty, you’re entitled to have the item repaired, replaced or refunded.

If you were made aware of a particular fault when you bought the item, you can’t later return the item due to that fault.

You must inform the seller within two months of the date you found the fault, but ideally as soon as possible.

If the fault is found within six months of delivery, it’s assumed that it pre-existed when you bought it. If it’s later than six months, you’ll need to prove it existed at the time of delivery.

What if you don’t have the receipt?

Your receipt is the easiest way of proving when you bought the item and what you paid, but there are other options if you’ve mislaid it.

You could use a debit or credit card statement instead. It’s also worth checking the terms of the guarantee if there is one, as this may also be accepted as proof of purchase.

If the item was a gift, you could either:

  • use the gift receipt if you have one
  • get the original receipt from the person that bought you the item, or
  • ask them to return the item for you.

Even if a shop’s policy is no refunds, where faulty items are concerned, you still have the right to one.

Can you get a refund on unwanted items?

This depends on whether you bought the item in-store or online.

Refunds when buying in-store

If you buy goods in a shop, you’re not legally entitled to a refund on unwanted items.

For example, if you get the item home and decide it’s not quite the right colour or fit, or you don’t need it after all, it comes down to the seller’s refund policy.

Some shops are happy to refund unwanted items if you have your receipt and it’s within the refund period, e.g. 28 days.

Other sellers may offer a credit note for their store or exchange option rather than a refund.

Refunds when buying online

When you buy online, you have more rights when it comes to unwanted items because you can’t physically check the goods before buying them.

You have a 14 day cooling off period, which starts when you receive the goods. You can choose to return them for any reason if you let the seller know in writing within that period.

You then have a further 14 days to return the goods and are liable for any return costs. Any standard delivery costs paid originally will be refunded.

You’re entitled to a refund within 14 days of cancelling (or the goods being received by the seller).

Certain products and services are excluded from the 14 day cooling off period, e.g. flowers, hotel bookings and bespoke items. This should be made clear upfront.

If you’re not confident about an online purchase, always check the terms around returning the item as this can be costly.

What else must online retailers provide?

As well as having additional refund rights when buying online, there’s other information sellers must provide, including:

  • Their trading name, address & contact details
  • A description of the goods or service
  • The total price, including taxes
  • Other charges, e.g. delivery and return costs
  • Payment and delivery methods
  • Their cancellation procedure
  • Their complaints procedure
  • Contract terms

What are the benefits of using a credit card?

You don’t have any additional consumer protection by paying with a credit card in Ireland, but there are some benefits:

  • Chargeback protection: This lets you request a transaction to be reversed in specific scenarios.
  • Get up to 56 days interest free credit: This can offer some breathing space until your next payday to pay for goods without paying anything extra.
  • Earn rewards: With a rewards credit card you could earn cashback and Avios, or get access to exclusive offers and experiences as you spend.
  • Helps to reduce contact: Carrying a card rather than cash and using contactless payment where possible reduces contact, making it a safer way to pay.
  • No card fees: Whether you use a debit or credit card, you won’t be charged a card fee.
  • Visa and Mastercard Zero liability protection: This helps you to claim back any losses if your card is used fraudulently.

What is chargeback?

It’s a way of reversing a transaction and getting your money back from your card issuer, but there are rules attached and a process to follow.

Chargeback isn’t a legal right, but it’s a method used by debit and credit card providers globally.

When can you request a chargeback?

Here are some examples of when you could request a chargeback:

  • You didn’t authorise the transaction, e.g. it was fraudulent
  • You never received the goods you paid for
  • The goods were faulty or not as described
  • You were charged more than once by mistake
  • The seller you bought from has gone bust

You have up to 120 days from the transaction date to request a chargeback, and it covers sales of any amount.

The chargeback process

Before requesting a chargeback, you must resolve the matter with the seller directly first.

If they refuse or don’t respond to your request, you can initiate the chargeback process.

  1. Contact your bank or card issuer, e.g. Visa or Mastercard, to advise them you wish to make a chargeback claim.
  2. Share details of the transaction with them, e.g. the date, amount and reason for the chargeback, and gather proof of your attempt to get your money back directly from the seller. You may be asked to complete a claim form.
  3. Your card issuer will contact the retailer and let them know about the chargeback claim. They will ask for any documents to disprove it and debit their account.
  4. The retailer has 14 days to dispute the claim and provide evidence, e.g. proof of delivery.* If no evidence is given, you’ll be refunded, and the matter is closed.

*If evidence is provided, it will be assessed and may need arbitration to resolve.

If you’re unhappy with the outcome, you can raise a complaint with your card issuer by following their complaints procedure.

How to spot an online scam

We look at common online shopping scams and how to recognise the warning signs in our guide How to avoid online shopping scams.

If you’re buying from an unknown website, check out our tips for shopping online safely.

Refund rights FAQs

Can I get a refund on a sale item?

If you buy online, yes, you have the same rights for sale items as non-sale items and can get a full refund.

Unless the goods are faulty, there’s no legal right to a refund if you buy in-store, so it depends on the store and their policy. Some shops that usually offer refunds may have different rules on sale items.

If you bought an item at a reduced price, e.g. due to a fault, this is different from it being in the sale, and you’re not entitled to a refund.

What happens if my item isn't delivered?

The first step is to contact the seller, who must issue a refund within 14 days.

If this doesn’t happen, if you used a credit or debit card to pay, you can pursue a chargeback claim to get your money back.

Am I protected if I pay with PayPal?

If you buy goods online from an individual and use PayPal, it offers something called Buyer Protection.

There are rules attached, but essentially, if there’s an issue with the transaction, e.g. the item isn’t as described, you can use the PayPal platform within 180 days of the payment date to get a refund.

Go to the PayPal Resolution Centre to open a dispute with the seller and escalate it to a claim within 20 days of this.

Full details can be found on the PayPal Help Centre.