Posted on Thursday 21st November 2019
Brandon Cook, Trading Standards Manager at Staffordshire County Council
Shoppers looking for bargains online on Black Friday and throughout the festive and New Year’s sales period are being urged to get to know their rights and avoid being ripped off.
The reminder from Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team is asking people to be aware of their consumer rights before they shop, particularly online.
Black Friday (29 November) is expected to see shoppers spend around £7 billion, much of which will be online. It’s the busiest shopping day of the year, when many retailers run special promotions and huge discounts on high demand products for 24 hours, to get people buying presents for Christmas.
Brandon Cook, Trading Standards Manager at Staffordshire County Council said:
“Black Friday is now one of the busiest days for shopping and we simply want to remind people of their rights and to be aware of potential pitfalls when they’re handing over their hard-earned cash.
“Unfortunately, internet shoppers are increasingly targeted by criminals and scammers and that’s why it is important people follow some simple safety tips when buying online. We want people to be able to shop with confidence online and stay safe.”
Recent changes to consumer laws have given people greater clarity when they shop in store or online. The Consumer Rights Act clarifies consumer law and includes legislation to allow people to obtain a full refund on faulty goods within 30 days of purchase, an ability to challenge unfair terms and conditions and to demand poor services are redone or that there is a price reduction.
Sales of counterfeit goods being sold from bogus websites online have also increased in recent years. These scam websites are often difficult to tell from genuine ones but there are some tell-tale signs people can look out for.
People should be wary if the site:
- Has no information about the identity of the person operating the business such as the proprietor’s name or the company’s full name
- Has no geographic address for the business, preventing people from locating the business in the event of a dispute
- Makes no mention of any cancellation rights
- Only accepts payments via money transfer services such as MoneyGram and/ or Western Union
People should also be particularly wary of goods being offered for sale on social networks. Quite often these are counterfeit goods which are potentially dangerous and of poor quality.
To avoid counterfeit goods, consumers should also look out for the "3 P's":
PRICE: If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
PACKAGING: If the product is being sold without its packaging, or the packaging appears to be of low quality, or includes printing errors (for example, blurry pictures, typos, spelling or grammatical errors) it is probably counterfeit.
PLACE: Consider where the product is being sold. If it’s In-Store, ask yourself if you would normally expect to find the product sold in this type of environment. Deal only with legitimate, established retailers.
If buying online, counterfeiters often steal pictures and formatting from the real websites to make their websites look legitimate, so don't be fooled by a professional-looking website. If you find typos, grammatical and spelling errors, or incomplete information, then the site is probably fake.
People with concerns about shopping online should visit Citizens Advice on www.citizensadvice.org.uk or telephone Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 03454 04 05 06.