More than 13,000 problems with purchases in England and Wales on online marketplaces were reported to the Citizens Advice consumer service last year.
Online marketplaces – websites where traders and private individuals list and sell products – are becoming increasingly popular for people trying to find the best deal.
As customers turn to online marketplaces in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole is warning residents to be aware of the dangers.
Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole says people don’t always know they have fewer rights when they buy from a private seller, compared to if they buy from a business.
If you buy from a private seller the principle of “buyer beware” applies. This means while the seller can’t misdescribe the item, they can omit information. For example, if a laptop is described as being a silver laptop in “excellent working condition” but it’s faulty, you could ask for your money back. But if “excellent working condition” is missing from the description, you won’t be able to.
In the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole suggests people check all the product information carefully before buying something on an online marketplace. They also recommend that shoppers take extra care, like reading previous reviews and saving screenshots of their purchases.
Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole said:
“Far too many people are being ripped off on online marketplaces. We want to make sure customers know what to look out for when making a purchase and their rights if something goes wrong.
“With millions of people trying to find a bargain online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, buyers need to beware when purchasing off online marketplaces.
“To reduce the risk of being left out-of-pocket it’s a good idea to check the product information on these sites carefully before they make a purchase.”
Here are Citizens Advice’s tips for using online marketplaces:
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 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.
If the item doesn’t match the photos on the website, you may also have grounds to ask for your money back.
For more information contact:
Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole
Consumer Helpline – 03454 04 05 06 for general consumer queries including your rights and reporting to trading standards.
Citizens Advice Scams Advice – 0300 330 3003 for advice and reporting online scams.
Both of the advice lines are open Monday to Friday 9am till 5pm
Or visit one of our advisers Face to Face at one of our drop in sessions – https://www.citizensadvicebcp.org.uk/get-advice/