Consumer Rights: 'Is it wise to buy my new kitchen from abroad?'

Protection of rights is a worry despite the lure of dream Italian units and appliances at low prices

Q: After a windfall, we decided to install our dream kitchen. We have always wanted particular units and appliances and I found exactly the right things online from a company in Italy. The prices are very competitive and even taking exchange rates and shipping costs into consideration we'd save quite a bit by buying abroad. But what if things go wrong? Would we have any rights at all? Should we forget the savings and buy in the UK?

MK, South Wales

A: Shoppers are often put off buying abroad by a fear of becoing involved in a wrangle with a business outside the UK. However you're rights are the same anywhere in Europe and you can get a refund if the goods are faulty or not what you expected. Buying online gives you even more rights than buying from a shop.

The website you're using should give you all the information about your kitchen appliances and units and the contact details of the firm.

Don't think that just because a website has a address the firm is in the UK. Equally a firm with an Italian domain name may not be in Italy. If you can't find the contact details and address on page then don't trade with that company and don't trust PO boxes.

Reputable firms will make it easy to find out where they are as they want your business and your trust. Tedious as it may seem do read the terms and conditions rather than just ticking the box. If you're not happy about anything, don't 'shop'.

Then under the Distance Selling Directive you have a seven-day cooling off period in which to change your mind, starting the day after the goods are delivered, so you can send them back for any reason. In a shop you can't demand a refund simply because you change your mind.

If you do end up sending things back you have to pay for the shipment but the trader then has to refund your money within 30 days.

The most common cause of problems is caused by orders not turning up at all. When you place your order you should be given an idea of when you'll get them and they should arrive within 30 days unless you agree a later date will be acceptable – if the units have to be built from scratch for example.

If there's a reason that you really need the goods by a certain date, make that very clear at the outset and keep a written (or e-mail) record of those discussions. That will then form part of your agreement with the company and make it easier to claim some recompense if they don't make that date.

Having taken all possible precautions, if things do go wrong write or e-mail the company first explaining the problem and what you want done about it. If that doesn't work, the UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) can give you information and advice and there's a network of 29 of special agencies across the EU, Iceland and Norway. They don't have powers to force traders to play ball but they can ask their counterpart office in Italy to assist you by contacting the firm.

If that still doesn't get a satisfactory solution they can advise about alternative dispute resolutions or how to take a claim through the courts. The UK ECC is at or on 08456 040503.

Buying from a UK company doesn't always guarantee a great service and problem free shopping.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

    Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

    Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

    £18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

    Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

    £35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor