The truth behind drunk online shopping

New broadbandchoices.co.uk research found that a quarter of Brits have bought something online while drunk. Worse still, many came to regret that purchase. But a silly purchase isn’t the end of the world...

A few years ago, I bought a sniper rifle online.

Before you all start frantically phoning the fuzz to report an insane, arms-wielding broadband-loving psycho, I should probably clarify a few things. Firstly, while actual size, it was only a replica rifle - incapable of causing damage to anything except my bank account. Secondly, I bought it while drunk.

That's not an excuse, of course, but it is an explanation. It was one of those impulse buys that, to this day, I have no idea why I purchased it. Possibly compensating for something, but regardless, I deeply regret that impulse purchase.

I can, at least, take comfort, from the fact that I'm far from the only person to buy something online while liquored up.

Net regret

In fact, according to new research from broadbandchoices, more than a quarter of Brits has shopped online while drunk. And while nobody else reported wasting their money on fake firearms, many reported buying things that were no less ridiculous. For example, among the items people admitted they ordered while tanked up were a set of fake teeth, a 1930s male bathing suit, adult toys, a meat pizza - ordered by a vegetarian - and a chairman Mao cigarette lighter.

Unsurprisingly, considering all the miscellaneous tat available to buy online, many purchases were later a source of regret. Four out of ten of those questioned by broadbandchoices admitted to buyer's remorse after a drunken shopping spree.

Mango Saul, editor of fashion and lifestyle site Handbag.com acknowledges the dangers that accompany alcohol and online retail.

"We love shopping but a bit of alcohol can give us the push that convinces us to make that impulse purchase," he says.

"It's not the wisest idea though - especially if you're buying something like clothes, where it's all too easy to get the little details like size or colour wrong, and end up with something that doesn't fit or looks terrible on you."

He's not wrong - according to our research, one in seven internet shoppers admitted they'd blundered, picking items of the wrong size or wrong colour. More than a quarter of them admitted they'd ordered the wrong thing entirely.

Avoidance

Clearly then, it's in everyone's best interests not to go online shopping while drunk. But, that's easier said than done for some people - you're not exactly at your most logical when you've got a bit of booze inside, and with tablets and smartphones now providing almost instant access to online stores, that shiny new toy, or trendy new outfit seems awfully tempting...

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of you taking that plunge. For example, ensuring you're signed out of any retail sites can help reduce the chance of clicking that 'add to cart' button. It means you'll have to sign into the site with your user name and password - an impulse purchase is a lot less likely if there's that extra layer of faff to go through.

The same can be said for any one-click ordering systems. These let you buy an item with a single click, so deactivating these, and adding more steps to the process, gives a beer-battered brain a chance to go: "ooh, hold on - maybe this isn't a good idea."

A final top tip is to delete any retail apps from your phone and tablet. While some sites are optimised for smaller screens, many are not, and the slightly inconvenient browsing experience could help dissuade against some purchases.

Of course, none of these are infallible - if you really want to buy something, it's going to happen.

Not the end of the world

Fortunately, if you do make a boozy buy, there's no need to lose any sleep over it - not that's it's typically problem when you're drunk. If you fight through the stabby horror of the hangover haze, you'll often have time to cancel an order before delivery occurs. Even if you can't there's no problem.

What many people don't seem to realise is that, even if you do make an ill-advised purchase online - it often doesn't mean you have to regret it. At least not for long.

The fact is, if you buy something on the internet, you actually have more rights to return it than you would if you bought it from a shop.

The Distance Selling Regulations give you the right to get a refund on unwanted items - even if your reason for returning it is that you changed your mind. According to consumer advice group Which?:

"Your right to cancel starts the moment you place your order and doesn't end until seven working days from the day after you receive your goods.

"This is the minimum consumers must be given and many sellers choose to exceed this, so always check the terms and conditions in case you have longer to return your items.

"And as this seven-day working period is the time you have to decide whether to cancel, the seller can't say that you must have returned the goods within this time frame."

The next morning

Life would probably be better if we didn't buy things when drunk, but as the broadbandchoices study indicates, Brits like online shopping and Brits like drinking. The results of combining the two are seemingly inevitable.

Our advice - stay away from the web if you're full of high spirits, but don't whine if you shop after wine - you're protected in most cases by consumer rights.

Ultimately, drink-shopping happens. It's happened to me, and it's probably happened to many of you as well. If so, we want to hear about it - share your stories in the comments!

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