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Tips on how to buy online

Published 30th November 2018

Sandwell Council is backing a national campaign to highlight possible problems of buying goods online in the busiest shopping time of the year.

This year it is estimated that 24 billion pounds will be spent online in the UK, a staggering £868 per person and a 12% increase on last year. 

For the less savvy shopper, buying online can be confusing and for unscrupulous operators it can present boundless possibilities to rip off and scam the unwary. 

The council’s trading standards team is highlighting the problems of buying on line as part of   National Consumer Week (NCW) organised by the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP).

It is putting out warnings and tips of how to deal with problems as the campaign raises awareness of online marketplaces and how consumer rights differ when buying online as people search for Christmas presents.   

There are many potential concerns when purchasing goods over the internet including, security issues of other individuals obtaining banking information, identity theft problems, buying counterfeit and unsafe goods, goods never arriving and too good to be deals that never materialise. 

Councillor Elaine Costigan, cabinet member for health and public protection, said: “We are backing this campaign because it educates consumers about their responsibilities when buying from online marketplaces.

“Consumer rights differ when buying online from purchasing at shops and the campaign highlights the differences – and gives advice when something goes wrong.”

Bob Charnley, manager for trading standards, said: “We want to ensure that members of the public know as much as possible about their rights and responsibilities when they buy on line and can seek advice when things go wrong. 

“I would recommend that consumers spend some time to educate themselves before they buy, especially if they are not regular users of the internet.  The Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice publish extensive advice online for consumers ”

 The Money Advice Top Tips for selling Advice online;

  1.  Research retailers online to make sure they’re legitimate.
  2. Make sure the website is secure.
  3. Know your rights and the company’s returns policy.
  4. Keep software and virus protection up-to-date and use strong passwords for online accounts.
  5. Don’t use public Wi-Fi. Your standard data connection is more secure.
  6. Pay using a credit card. You will have more protection. Alternatively, online services like PayPal mean scammers will not be able to get hold of your bank details.
  7. Be smart. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Councillor Elaine Costigan added: “I hope everybody has a happy and prosperous Christmas but if they do have any problems with goods or services that they have purchased online please report it to my Trading Standards Team by calling 03454 040506."