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Don't Let Santa E-Tailers Become On-line Scrooges

Trading Standards officers are warning consumers to take steps to make sure that internet “e-tailers” don’t disappoint in the run-up to Christmas.

Advice is being issued on shopping on the internet after a survey showed that many people were let down last year.

It found that 38 per cent of goods ordered arrived late and 17 per cent did not turn up at all.

Warwickshire County Council's Trading Standards service is appealing in Internet companies to not make unrealistic delivery claims, particularly considering recent problems with rail services.

They also say that if consumers are guaranteed a before Christmas day delivery date by a distance seller (internet, mail order, telephone or fax), and they don't receive their goods until after Christmas, they may be entitled to their money back for breach of the Distance Selling Regulations.

Officers are advising consumers to order as soon as possible to avoid disappointment and keep a print out of any delivery time claims made on a website.

Under the Distance Selling Regulations, people buying from UK firms on the internet should receive:

  • basic contact information

  • written confirmation of their order

  • a cooling-off period of seven working days in which to cancel

  • delivery of goods and services within 30 days, unless otherwise agreed.

Their top tips for a safe and successful on-line Christmas are:

ALWAYS USE A CREDIT CARD If a credit card is used for the transaction and the item is worth over £100, then if any problems do arise, the consumer can make a claim against the credit card company, in addition to the company supplying the item, giving them extra protection.

MAKE SURE THAT THE WEBSITE YOU USE IS SECURE. Look for a padlock image in your browser, and before confirming your credit card details, check that the website address has changed from http to https. This will mean that your details will be scrambled and encoded.

KNOW WHERE THE COMPANY YOU ARE DEALING WITH IS BASED. Legitimate companies should give their name, address and a telephone number on their websites. If you're in any doubt, give them a call, and remember it may be more difficult to deal with non-UK companies if something goes wrong.

FIND OUT THE TOTAL COST BEFORE YOU BUY. Make sure you know the full cost of the goods or services you are intending to purchase, including any delivery charges and if buying from abroad, import duties.

CHRISTMAS DELIVERY. If you want delivery before Christmas, have the company confirm a delivery date in writing as part of the contract.

READ THE SMALL PRINT. Check to see whether the company has a refund and returns policy or whether it intends to sell on your details to other companies. If it won't respect your privacy and hasn't got a consumer rights policy, think carefully before buying from them.

KEEP A RECORD OF YOUR TRANSACTION. Keep a print out of the website, and of your entire transaction. Websites can be altered very quickly, and if there is a problem you might need a hard copy as evidence.

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CWN / Politics / Warwickshire County Council / 8 Dec 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM