Safe shopping advice for Oxfordshire bargain hunters… Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Shoppers in Oxfordshire are being encouraged to be scam-aware and avoid their anticipated Black Friday and Cyber Monday online bargains becoming expensive rip-offs.

Safe shopping advice is from Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team.

The two US-inspired bargain bonanza days have become popular with retailers in recent years, with consumers looking to pick up items, particularly online, in the run up to Christmas. This year Black Friday is 27 November and Cyber Monday is 30 November 2020, with many retailers likely to extend the sales period.

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “There will be plenty of genuine bargains this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I’m sure, but scams and rip-offs too. In these difficult times, I don’t want any Oxfordshire resident to be conned out of their hard-earned money. My advice is when shopping online, take time to do your research before checking out your online basket. Use the tips suggested by our trading standards team.

Although much of our scam awareness advice focusses on online bargains, if entering retail premises that are allowed to stay open or are operating click and collect; please remember to follow COVID-19 guidance such as social distancing and wearing a suitable face covering. Stay safe. Stay alert.”

What to look out for

  • Bogus online stores – fake websites and email offers for goods and services that do not exist. 
  • Losing money when making direct bank payments only to find the goods are inferior or do not exist at all.
  • Buying fake goods intentionally or unintentionally – finding they are of inferior quality or unsafe and possibly funding more serious crimes in the process.

Tips for shopping safely

  • Ensure that any unfamiliar online retailer is reputable by researching them. Establish a physical address and telephone contact details. This is normally found in the terms and conditions or about us sections of a website. The best way to find a reputable retailer is through a recommendation from a trusted source.
  • Look for trusted online reviews of the trader to see the experiences of other shoppers.
  • Check that the business is located at the address stated. Businesses operating online need to provide an address at which they are based. Websites operated by limited companies based in the UK also need to provide their full registered company name, not just a trading name, and need to state their registered office address and companies house registration number. With any address provided, check that it exists by carrying out searches using the Royal Mail address finder or by using other online tools such as Google street view.
  • Read terms and conditions, especially the delivery times and returns policies. Some websites will have terms and conditions that do not make sense or contain spelling errors and other inaccuracies.
  • Paying by credit card offers greater protection than other methods in terms of fraud, guarantees and non-delivery.
  • Before entering payment card details on a website, ensure the link is secure, checking for the padlock symbol in the browser window frame and that the web address begins with ‘https://’.
  • If a seller asks for payment by PayPal Friends and Family, this will be so that they can avoid PayPal charges, but will deny the buyer any payment protection that PayPal might otherwise provide.
  • Check credit card and bank statements carefully after shopping to ensure that the correct amount has been debited and that no fraud has taken place as a result of the transaction.
  • When buying outside the UK, check if there will be a tax import duty added before buying.

Visit the Get Safe Online website for more tips on how to shop safely online.

Anyone with concerns about an item they have purchased online can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline for advice on their rights and report their concerns to the relevant trading standards service. This can be done by telephone on 0808 223 1133 or online.