Online shopping

Tips for trouble-free online shopping

Follow our tips to shop online with success. Source: iStock

Internet shopping is booming – Swiss consumers spent 7.8 billion francs online in 2016 alone, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. But you need to be vigilant if you don't want your shopping experience to turn sour. Follow these guidelines from and you can shop online with confidence.

Convenience, price and availability – these are the top reasons why Swiss consumers shop online. But is this enough to stop you shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store? Only if you remember a few important points – from the very first click to goods return. has compiled ten tips to ensure your online shopping experience is a success.

Before you order

Buy from a trusted seller

Make sure your chosen seller is trusted. Check, for example, that the site provides the company's address, e-mail address and telephone number and its general terms and conditions. Make sure the text is not littered with mistakes and that the links work. The site should display detailed information about the company and at least one quality assurance certificate or “trustmark” (e.g. Trusted Shops). Click on the logo of the trustmark to make sure it links to the correct website.

Make sure the site is secure

Try to place your online order from a private rather than a public computer wherever possible. You should also verify that the data is sent via a secure connection. Online retailers should ensure that data is encrypted before it is transferred. You can identify a secure connection by the https:// prefix in your browser's address line, or by symbols like a padlock icon in the bottom browser bar. You should also install virus protection software and a firewall and, if possible, enable private browsing mode in the browser to provide extra protection against third-party attacks. Browsers that support privacy or “incognito” modes are Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. If you cannot browse in privacy mode, you should clear your browsing history after shopping.

When placing your order

Check your basket

Check your electronic shopping basket carefully when placing an order online. Have you selected the correct quantity? Is it the product you wanted and is the price right? The applicable prices are those displayed on the online retailer's home page.

Check the general terms and conditions

It's important to read the retailer’s general terms and conditions. This document usually describes what sort of guarantee and liability is offered by the retailer and whether the customer has any right of return or exchange. If this information is not fully explained or some of the details are unclear, you should clarify this with the retailer before making the purchase.

Check if any charges are applicable

Check to see if you are being charged any extra fees. As well as the usual delivery charges and minimum order surcharges, you may also face additional customs and tax costs when shopping on sites outside Switzerland. It's not always easy to identify these sites as they may have purchased a web address with a “.ch” ending. You can usually find out where the store is located in the contact details or company information. For deliveries from abroad, Swiss Post calculates the customs clearance price based on the country of origin and value of the item. The standard fee is usually between 11.50 and 16 francs. A supplement of three percent is added to the taxable value of the item.

Pay securely

Choose a secure payment method. In Switzerland, for example, paying by invoice is a safe option and is offered by most reputable online retailers. The online payment service PayPal also guarantees a high level of security. Once you have set up your PayPal account, you can pay online quite simply by using your e-mail address and password instead of having to enter sensitive payment information. Credit cards are also usually considered a safe bet – you just need to be careful and use your common sense. If a retailer charges you a fee for paying by credit card, you can request it to be refunded.

After placing your order

Keep documentation

Keep all records associated with your purchase (shopping basket, payment and order confirmation, other e-mails and/or letters from the retailer). If there are any problems or queries relating to your order, you can use these documents as proof.

Report defects immediately

In the case of defective goods, a distinction is made between a guarantee and a warranty in Switzerland. The latter is just a voluntary promise by a manufacturer to provide a service (e.g. to repair any defect occurring within two years). A guarantee, on the other hand, is legally defined as “the duty of the seller to ensure that the buyer does receive faulty products”. Buyers who nevertheless receive a faulty product have three options, as described in the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR):

  1. Return the item (Art. 205 OR)

  2. Request a reduction in the purchase price (Art. 205 OR)

  3. Request a non-defective replacement (Art. 206 OR)

It is usually possible to return a defective item. You should notify the retailer as soon as you discover a defect, because your right to make guarantee claims expires after two years. This period cannot be made shorter.

Comparis tip: If you paid for your purchase by credit card, you also enjoy additional benefits such as purchase protection insurance or automatic extended warranties for electronic items. Check the services offered by your credit card provider.

Return your items promptly

Under Swiss law, there is no right to cancel for goods purchased online. However, most online retailers grant a right of return, and will accept returned items under certain circumstances. It is important that you check the conditions of return in the general terms and conditions and send the item back straight away.

Protect yourself from fraud

Don't forget to clear the purchase from your browser history or computer’s memory cache if you were not able to browse in privacy mode, otherwise this data can be read at a later date in the browser's cache. Watch out for fraudulent e-mails too – be suspicious of any e-mail requesting confidential data such as passwords or credit card information. Reputable companies will never ask for this type of information by e-mail or via a link or form.