Buy now or never
On days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, online shops attract customers with limited offers and drastic price cuts. When products are only available for a short time and in limited supply, shoppers can feel under pressure and are more likely to snatch at an offer.
However, it is worth checking carefully whether the prices are actually cheaper than before the discount: does the seller calculate the discount (which is shown as an attractive price difference) on the basis of the recommended retail price (RRP)? The original price indicated does not necessarily correspond to what the product is now worth or the price at which it is normally sold.
When looking for Christmas gifts online, it is also worth taking a look at the shipping method and the origin of the item. Online shops sometimes sell goods that are dispatched directly by the manufacturer rather than by the seller. According to this dropshipping business model, goods are not dispatched from a local warehouse, but they may come from far away depending on where they are manufactured. This can lead to extremely long delivery times of up to several months. What’s more, you may incur additional customs duties and taxes if the parcel comes from outside the European Union. Additionally, sending items back can be complicated and expensive if the delivered goods are incomplete or faulty.
On social networks, you can find adverts offering special products at bargain prices. But if an item is suddenly offered at a much cheaper price than on other websites, the offer is highly likely to be too good to be true. If you make such a purchase, you will either receive faulty or fake goods, or at worst, you’ll receive no parcel at all and you’ll be unable to contact the seller. In such cases, people often end up losing the amount they paid. A typical ploy among fraudsters involves stealing customers’ personal data and money using a fake website with very attractive offers.
Tips for more secure purchases
To safely enjoy online shopping despite the risks, consider taking the following precautions:
- Read user experiences and reviews about online shops to check their reliability and quality. You should be able to find all information and contact details in the legal notice on the relevant websites.
- Always think carefully before entering your credit card details or personal data on a website.
- Check the origin and shipping method of the product and watch out for any additional costs, customs duties or taxes that you may incur.
- Check whether a special offer is really such a good deal: compare the product price with the original price and with current prices.
- Maintain a healthy level of scepticism: if an offer is too good to be true, then it’s likely to involve a fake product or a scam.
If you fall victim to a scam, contact the police immediately and report the incident to your bank or your credit card provider. Alternatively, you can contact the European Consumer Centre Luxembourg.
Find out more about the work of the Luxembourg Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.
Christmas shopping and online promotions, European Consumer Centre (ECC) Luxembourg.