Christmas shopping online is supposed to be easy, convenient and risk free. What are your rights if presents don’t turn up, are faulty when they do, or you just don’t like them?

The gloves I bought for my mother online still haven’t arrived.

That depends on when you placed the order. Online retailers commonly give you a delivery date when you are paying, but the small print will often make clear that it is only an “estimate” and delivery times may “vary”. If the goods still haven’t arrived in that time you can cancel and claim a refund. The exception is if you have been promised or “guaranteed” the delivery by a certain date. You should have this on a confirmation email.

The IPad Mini I bought online for my brother arrived two days before Christmas but was damaged. How do I get a refund? 

It is extremely frustrating when goods arrive damaged, especially so soon before Christmas. You should be able to claim a full refund, including any delivery or postage costs, although that won’t help you at this late stage.

Under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Service Act, 1980 any goods you buy must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and match any description given. If your items fail to tick those boxes, you should be able to get your money back. You’ll need to contact the retailer who supplied the item, and complain that it is faulty or damaged.

Just make sure you don’t put your faulty presents to one side and then forget about them. If you hang around for too long, you may not be able to claim your money back. If the retailer refuses to give you a refund, repair or replace your item, you should make a formal complaint.

I’ve bought my brother-in-law Assassin’s Creed Rogue on the Xbox 360 from Amazon but it turns out he’s got it already. Can I return it?

If you bought it online you have a 14-day cooling-off period, from the date the goods were received, to return the items. This covers all online sales, including purchases on auction websites such as eBay. However, there are exceptions. You can’t usually return CDs, DVDs or computer games and other software which have been opened after delivery, so you’re stuck with the Xbox game if you couldn’t resist giving it a whirl when it arrived in the post. You will only be covered if you leave the wrapping and seals intact.

Likewise, the cooling-off period and most company returns policies, don’t include customised items with a personalised message, such as a calendar created using family photos, or made-to-measure items including curtains. Goods that are likely to deteriorate quickly, such as flowers, cannot be returned, either.

What can I do if I bought from an overseas website?

Fortunately, if you bought items from websites based in the EU, you have the same rights in most cases as if you’d bought from websites based in the Ireland. However, you may have to pay for return deliveries if you are sending items back to companies based abroad.

The European Directive on consumer rights (Directive 2011/83/EU) (known as the Consumer Rights Directive) aims to ensure that consumers can expect the same minimum level of protection no matter where a trader is based in the European Union (EU). The Directive was incorporated into Irish law by the European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013 (SI No. 484/2013) with effect from 13 June 2014.