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Shop online safely

by Jonathan Kearney

The festive season is well underway and many of you will be buying your Christmas presents online. Shopping online can be a great way to buy the things you need, but it’s important to make sure you’re doing so safely. Knowsley Council’s Trading Standards Team is sharing advice to ensure you are shopping safely and know your consumer rights.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said: “We are all relying on internet shopping more than we have before. While it is convenient and often quick, it’s important you shop safely. I encourage our residents to follow this advice and protect themselves and their consumer rights.”

How can I shop safely?

Although it can be  tempting to get sucked into the excitement that retailers create, not all ‘offers’ are as they seem and products may have been sold at the same price or possibly even cheaper, earlier in the year. There are a few easy steps you can take to help protect yourself from things going wrong:

  • Check the price of the product across various retailers/ websites, both current and historically, as the product advertised as a ‘Black Friday Deal’, may not be the cheapest price available
  • Be aware of counterfeiters posing behind realistic and sophisticated sales sites when on the look-out for prized deals this Black Friday. Counterfeiters may use fake brands, trademarks and emblems to entice consumers into buying fake products
  • Be wary of attention grabbing ‘was’ prices as often they can be quite misleading. Rather than looking at the saving, look at the cost and whether the product is of genuine good value.
  • Look out for any discount codes which may be offered online
  • Before you buy anything, check the company or website you’re using:

1) Read reviews from different websites.
2) Search for the company’s details on gov.uk. This will tell you if they’re a registered company or not.
3) Look at their terms and conditions.

  • Pay by debit or credit card or PayPal. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong.
  • Be wary of unofficial sites offering big discounts, and make sure you’re buying from the retailer’s official website. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Scammers may appear like a trusted business, using links in ads or emails to direct you to a fake website. Don’t click on any links you don’t trust.
  • Make your online shopping accounts secure. Use a strong password for your email accounts that you don’t use anywhere else

What are my rights?

  • You normally have up to 14 days after receiving your goods to change your mind and get a full refund. You then have a further 14 days to send the item back.
  • If there is a problem with your item within the first 30 days of delivery, you could get a refund, replacement or repair.
  • If there’s a problem with your item in the first 6 months, you’re normally entitled to a repair or replacement, or if this isn’t possible a full refund.
  • After 6 months, you may be able to get a part-refund, repair or replacement, but you may need to prove that you didn’t cause the fault.
  • It’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you. If you haven’t received your purchase you can ask for a redelivery, or in some cases a refund. Your rights can be different if you’re buying online from an individual seller, where the principle of ‘buyer beware’ applies.
  • Goods must be as described to you by the seller, but the seller doesn’t have to disclose any faults.
  • The seller can’t misrepresent the item – for example claiming something used is brand new

What can I do if I have a problem?

  • Contact the seller to try to resolve the issue. Check if they have an official complaints procedure, and keep a copy of anything you send to them.
  • If the seller is part of a trade association and you think they’ve broken the rules, the trade association may be able to help you.
  • You might be able to get your money back if you paid by card or PayPal. Send your card provider or PayPal a copy of your complaint letter to the company and let them know what response you’ve had.
  • Some traders belong to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme, which offers a way to solve your problem without going to court. Until 2021, you can use the EU Online Dispute Resolution Platform, which is an online version of ADR.
  • You can make a ‘small claim’ to the court if your problem hasn’t been resolved.

Find out more about your rights at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/NCW20

Retailers are not allowed to mislead consumers when advertising products at discounted prices so if you come across any offers which may be false, contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline – 0808 223 1133.

You can also watch this video