BUSINESS: Citizens advice warn of Black Friday dangers when buying online

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Citizens Advice Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are encouraging buyers to be cautious when buying from online marketplaces.

The charity says that we there is more risk involved when shopping from private sellers online as buyers have fewer rights than when making purchases in store. 

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 light of this, Citizens Advice are urging people to check all product information carefully before buying from an online marketplace, such as Facebook Marketplace and Ebay, in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

They are also encouraging people to read seller reviews and save screenshots of 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.”

How can you protect your purchases this weekend?
Check the product details

This includes photos, descriptions, pricing and contact details of the seller. It should be clear if it’s being sold by a trader or private seller – this is important as your rights are different.

Take screenshots of everything

This will come in handy if the item you receive is not the same as what you were sold.

Choose a sensible payment method

You are more likely to get your money back if something goes wrong if you pay by card or use the goods and services option on PayPal. Avoid paying by bank transfer or using the friends and family section on PayPal.

Go back to the seller if there’s an issue

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.

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