Things to be aware of when Christmas Shopping online…..

Trading Standards issue tips for online shoppers
Trading Standards issue tips for online shoppers

HANDY TIPS FOR Moray shoppers buying their Christmas gifts online this year have been issued by Moray Council’s Trading Standards office.

While the local authority continues to urge people to ‘shop local’ whenever possible, they recognise that each year many more people choose to do their shopping in the comfort of their own homes.

However, the pitfalls of doing so are many and not always clearly understood – in particular by those who are relatively new to online shopping. Now a list issued this week urges people to start their shopping as early as possible to ensure presents arrive in time – cautioning shoppers that unless otherwise agreed the law allows online retailers 30 day to deliver goods.

Online shoppers also usually have the right to change their mind or cancel an order for up to 14 days, but there are exceptions, such as for perishable, personalised or items brought from a private individual. When you do cancel an order, online retailers should refund the full cost plus delivery charges – although the may require you to pay the cost of returning items, retailers are not allowed to charge administrative fees if you cancel inside the 14 day period.

The advice also includes checking on companies before you buy online by looking for reviews on their past performance, and be wary of counterfeit goods which are usually poor quality and could be dangerous.

Another pitfall is ‘spoof’ web links to sites – these are most often found in spam emails. The advice is to only visit sites where you know the address and entering it directly into your web browser. You should also check that the site you are placing the order with has the ‘padlock’ symbol on the address bar and using an ‘https’ address, indicating it is a secure website.

Also useful would be to check that the website has a postal address and telephone number – do not assume that a company is in the UK, many overseas-based traders set up ‘UK sites’ but goods are shipped from warehouses in other parts of the world.

If something does go wrong and the goods you receive are not of satisfactory quality, you now have a 30 day right to reject them and get a full refund. Also, if you pay for an item worth between £100 and £30,000 with your credit card, your credit card provider is jointly liable.

Above all the message is that if a deal looks too good to be true then it quite probably is.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam or suspect an offer to be a scam or for further information or advice, contact the Moray Council trading standards service via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.

Alternatively to report online fraud please contact Action Fraud.