Trading Standards officers' advice to shoppers seeking online bargains this Christmas
With record numbers of online purchases expected this week, Trading Standards officers are issuing advice to bargain hunters on how to avoid being caught out this Christmas.
The launch coincides with Cyber Monday (26 November) and closely follows Black Friday (23 November), two of the busiest online shopping days of the year.
Our Trading Standards team experiences a surge in complaints about counterfeit, faulty and mis-described goods bought online during the festive season.
The team is supporting the annual awareness campaign, organised by the Consumer Protection Partnership, and is urging people to be extra vigilant.
Many of the counterfeit goods reported to Trading Standards are sold by traders who operate from private addresses and advertise their wares on eBay and Facebook. When consumers report these traders, officers are able to investigate and where necessary, obtain search warrants to seize the fake goods and prosecute the seller.
When buying goods online, consumers should always check the seller has a UK contact address, not just a UK domain name.They should also look at the seller's feedback and product reviews, as well as checking the returns policy prior to purchase.
Cooling off period
Traders normally offer a 14-day cooling off period, during which customers will receive a full refund if they change their mind. Consumers should also have 30 days from the date of purchase to return faulty, mis-described or suspected counterfeit goods, and to request a full refund, including postage and packaging.
In certain circumstances, the consumer's right to a refund extends to up to six months after the purchase.
All of this should be made clear within the seller's terms and conditions, and also applies to traders on eBay and Amazon.
For further consumer advice, visit our Trading Standards webpage.
Reduce the risks
Joanne Waller, our head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: "Our Trading Standards officers work tirelessly throughout the year to safeguard consumers and investigate when things go wrong.
"At this time of year, when so many deals are being advertised, consumers need to be extra vigilant, especially when shopping online.
"We all love a bargain but if a deal sounds too good to be true, it may well be, so approach it with caution. Make sure you check the trader's refund policy and terms and conditions, and when shopping on eBay or Amazon, look at the seller's feedback and reviews.
"By taking these steps, you are reducing the risk of being caught out but if something does go wrong, make sure you report it."
Anyone who buys faulty or mis-described goods online or who does not receive their purchases should contact the Consumer Advice Helpline on 03454 040506 in the first instance.
Counterfeit goods bought online from UK sites should also be reported to the helpline or by contacting Trading Standards at email@example.com
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