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Negotiation Letter: Dispute With an Online Seller

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 3 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Online Seller Dispute Letter Negotiation

It is important to remember that online sellers are still bound by the law with regards to consumer rights. When a dispute occurs between an online seller and customer these consumer rights still exist. Writing a negotiation letter if there is a dispute with an online seller should highlight this fact.

Online Sellers and Customer Rights

Britain has the second largest number of online shoppers of any country in the world. There are rights that have been set in place that protects the consumer against unfair behaviour by sellers. These consumer rights are granted under the law in the UK but these rights may not always apply when buying goods online from abroad. However a negotiation letter should be written with the same intent whether the seller is abroad or in the UK.

Intent of the Dispute Letter with an Online Seller

The intent of the dispute letter with an online seller is the same as a customer taking faulty goods back to a store. The end result is to obtain a refund or replacement goods. There is of course always the option of negotiating for a credit for goods to be obtained in the future. All of these options can be highlighted in the dispute letter.

Distance Selling Regulations for Consumers

Depending on the type of transaction another right that may be useful to highlight in the dispute letter is the distance selling regulations. The regulations add extra protection for online shoppers that includes seven day cooling off periods for customers who wish to withdraw from a contract. Online sellers must also state full accurate information about the goods, services, and products they are selling. There is also an amount of credit card protection included in the distance selling regulations.

Tone of the Dispute Letter with an Online Seller

The tone of the dispute letter should be businesslike and unemotional. This is a negotiation with an outcome that should be in the customer’s favour. If letters have been sent and there is still no outcome in sight then the letter should state firmly that steps will be taken to rectify the matter. This could include reporting the seller to the proper authorities such as the Office of Fair Trading.

Don’t Let Online Disputes Continue

Taking the firm approach with online sellers who sell shoddy goods and refuse to reimburse or even negotiate is the correct procedure. Online sellers who use the “out of sight, out of mind” approach should not be tolerated. Similarly, sellers who inform customers to contact manufacturers if there is a problem with goods should be informed of the facts. It is the seller’s responsibility to deal with the manufacturer if there is a problem with goods not the customer’s responsibility. Always be firm in the letter and make the seller aware that there will be consequences if they do not take responsibility for the goods they sell.

Sample Negotiation Letter: Dispute With an Online Seller

Seller name
Company name
Postal code


Customer name
Postal code



Re: Customer account number

I am responding to your previous letter dated (date) stating that a refund would not be given as the item was in satisfactory condition when it left your business premises. You have also stated that I should take my issue to the manufacturer of the item as they are responsible for the product.

I have contacted the consumer rights organisation Consumer Direct to ask their advice on this problem. They have informed me that under the Consumer Rights Act I am entitled to a full refund if goods are faulty when I receive them. They have also informed me that it is the seller’s responsibility to deal with the manufacturer of the goods not the customers.

I am prepared to accept a replacement product that is in working order. I will be sending this product back to you but I am insisting on a refund on the postage incurred. This dispute has now reached its third week and I do not intend this matter to continue any longer. I have been more than understanding of the situation but feel that the matter must now be rectified. If not, then I have been advised to report the matter and your company to the Office of Fair Trading.

I look forward to hearing from you within 14 days.

Yours sincerely

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