Many shoppers will emerge from Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a bargain, but for every shopper that gets a great deal, there will be others who are taken in by scammers.
More than 13,000 problems with purchases from online marketplaces were reported to the Citizens Advice consumer service last year, new analysis reveals, as polls show a staggering 76% of UK adults now use these websites where traders and private individuals list and sell products.
As customers turn to online marketplaces to bag a bargain, Citizens Advice are arming shoppers with advice on what to look out for, both on the High Street and on line.
Principal Trading Standards officer Emma Milligan said: “We know that hundreds of Lincolnshire residents will be shopping on Black Friday and in the run-up to Christmas.
“They will be looking for bargains both online and on the high street, so we’ve put together some advice which we hope will help them.
“Just some simple checks before you buy could stop this special time of year being spoiled by a scam.”
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Far too many people are being ripped off on online marketplaces.
“This National Consumer Week, we want to make sure customers know what to look out for when making a purchase - and their rights if something goes wrong.”
Lincolnshire Trading Standards officers will be joining Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Stuart Tweedale for roadshow events next week which aim to advise county consumers of bargain-hunting pitfalls.
The roadshow will be at Asda Living on Tritton Road in Lincoln next Monday, before moving to Stamford Town Centre on Tuesday.
Check out the @lincsts Twitter and Facebook accounts for more information.
Ahead of National Consumer Week (from November 26 to December 2), here are Citizens Advice’s tips for safer online purchases:
CHECK THE PRODUCT DETAILS
This should include: photos; a description; cost of the item; delivery charges; contact details for the seller; and any cancellation rights.
It should also be clear if it’s being sold by a trader or private seller - this is important as your rights are different.
It is wise to read previous reviews as these can often flag potential issues, but watch out for fake reviews. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
TAKE SCREENSHOTS OF THE ITEM YOU WANT TO BUY
This will come in handy if the item you receive is different to what you saw on the website.
Use a payment method that protects you
You’ll have a better chance of getting your money back if there’s a problem by using a card or Paypal, particularly if it’s an overseas seller. Avoid paying by bank transfer.
GO BACK TO THE SELLER IF THERE’S A PROBLEM
Explain what’s happened, how you’d like them to fix it and give a deadline for them to respond. If they don’t sort it out, see if there’s an alternative dispute resolution service that can help. Report them and the online marketplace to Trading Standards if you think the issue is unfair.
GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK FROM A PRIVATE SELLER
The product description needs to be accurate, but if information is missing you won’t be able to ask for your money back.