Online shopping

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Online Shopping Advice: Nine tips for consumers to stay safe

The Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman recently reported online shopping site Mr Shopper to the National Consumer Commission.

Online shopping

Image via Adobe Stock

The Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO) has recored a spike in the number of complaints received about online shopping stores.

The office of the CGSO said in a statement that there had been a “dramatic rise” in the number of online shopping complaints which had soared from 4% to 24% of total complaints received since the start of lockdown in March 2020. The online shopping complaints related to late deliveries, goods not being of expected quality, queries not being attended to, terms and conditions not being disclosed, unfair return and refund policies as well as pricing errors. 

“We therefore urge all online suppliers of goods and services to ensure that they comply with the CPA,” the CGSO said.

Consumers should only deal with online shopping businesses that comply with the following nine requirements as outlined by the CGSO:

  • Display correct pricing. Where there is an error, it must be communicated to consumers and be corrected within a reasonable time, otherwise consumers are entitled to purchase at the displayed price;
  • Provide a detailed description of the goods or services to avoid consumers ordering goods that are not fit for purpose;
  • Display delivery times and communicating delays to consumers;
  • Disclose key terms and conditions, including return and refunds timeframes and channels;
  • Display contact details and escalation processes if consumers have any queries;
  • Avoiding bait marketing or overselling by ensuring that there is sufficient stock or indicating stock limitations in all advertisements where applicable;
  • Avoid accepting money from consumers if there is no stock or capacity to deliver the goods or services at the agreed time and date;
  • Disclose any other additional costs that the consumer would incur, including any delivery costs or cancellation penalties; and
  • Provide a system for consumers to track their deliveries.

“Consumers who shop online are advised to stick to reputable retailers and to  especially be wary of unrealistically low deals. They are further advised to do their homework before parting with their hard earned money by checking  with  online communities before purchasing anything from any online sites,” the CGSO said.

“Mr Shopper, for example, has racked up significant complaints on the review aggregator, Hello Peter and other social media platforms. Complaints are inevitable but reputable suppliers always respond to and provide redress to their customers,” the CGSO said.

“Online suppliers who are CGSO Participants and display the CGSO decal on their websites or shops can be trusted to deal with queries and complaints from their customers, or advise their customers to escalate to the CGSO if there is a deadlock. Consumers can also check if a supplier is a CGSO Participant on the ombudsman’s website,