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Consumer & Business Advice
Media releases
6 December 2013

Consumer and Business Services (CBS) are urging consumers to be wary of scrooge- like online merchants when hunting for the perfect gift this festive season.

Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Paul White said in the lead up to Christmas many consumers will be shopping online, in search of great deals, improved convenience and expanded product range.

“Consumers need to be smart when shopping online and there are appropriate measures that they can take to ensure safe online activity, reducing the chance of fraud and providing adequate levels of consumer protection,” the Commissioner said.

“Shopping online can be confusing for those who are not web-savvy and we want consumers to be able to complete transactions in complete confidence.

“Australian retailers offering goods and services online are regulated by Australian Consumer Law, and these businesses have the same obligations and responsibilities to consumers as they would if they were buying physically in-store.

“Australian Consumer Law however, may not apply to overseas purchases or may only offer limited protection, making it important for consumers to read policies prior to clicking ‘buy’, to avoid dubious trading activity.

“CBS have teamed up with Australian Consumer Law regulators to produce a video to help consumers understand their rights when shopping online.” Mr White said.

CBS strongly encourages consumers to follow these tips to help shop safely and securely while online:

1.    Research and shop around – have you compared products and prices for sale on other sites? Do you know the total price including delivery charges? How long will it take to receive your purchase? Do they provide FAQ’s and other tips on safety requirements or other purchase issues?

2.    Know who you’re dealing with – is the business trusted and reliable? What do other consumers say about the business or the product/service? Does the business provide legitimate contact details?

3.    Make sure you choose what’s right for you – price alone should not be the driving factor in making a decision about which business to buy from. There are many factors to keep in mind – is the quality ok? Does it meet Australian standards? How easy will it be to return if something goes wrong? What’s the business’ customer service like?

4.    Keep your personal details private and secure – does the business have a privacy policy in place? Only pay via secure payment methods – when you go to make a purchase, does the web address start with ‘https’ and can you see a closed padlock symbol?
5.    If a problem arises – how easy will it be to right a wrong? What do you have to do to return the product if it’s unsafe or does not meet its intended purpose or is not what you expected? Does the business have a good complaints resolution process in place?

The Shop Smart Online video is available from the CBS YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/OCBASA

For more information on shopping online visit www.cbs.sa.gov.au or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website at www.accc.gov.au/shoppingonline