Christmas shoppers face being left out of pocket if their online orders never arrive or turn up broken.
A Money Mail investigation found shops and banks are using a legal loophole to wriggle out of paying claims for refunds.
Typically, most big stores offer a replacement or refund if goods go missing in the post, arrive damaged or faulty, or fail to match the description the shop gave online.
Crucial: Most big stores offer a replacement or refund if goods go missing in the post but you cannot rely on online sellers or smaller stores to help if there is a problem with your order
Money Mail’s postbag is filled with a steady stream of letters from customers of these types of firm, whose calls and emails have got them nowhere.
When a seller won’t reimburse you or goes bust, your only hope of a refund is to claim from your bank.
If you paid by credit card, you are protected under so-called Section 75 rules, which force the card provider to cover losses on goods worth between £100 and £30,000.It is then up to the card firm to chase the shop for the missing cash.
However, banks now routinely deny these payouts — and let unscrupulous shops off the hook — because the rules do not apply if an extra party was involved in your purchase.
This might sound unusual, but it’s not.Figures show tens of thousands of smaller online retailers now use a separate company to process their customers’ payments.
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox floatRHS money" data-version="2" id="mol-66051cb0-c6ff-11e6-893f-75990315ae9c" website you're on your own if Xmas gifts get lost in the post