Jingling your money away

More and more people are buying their Christmas presents online but Merton Council’s trading standards are warning residents that not all online organisations share the same Christmas cheer.

They are advising online shoppers to follow these top tips for safer on-line shopping:

1. Be careful when giving out credit or debit card details on the Internet. Always find out whether the company has a secure site (look for the closed padlock at the bottom of the screen)

2. Trade with well-known or recommended companies, or those that you have done business with before.

3. Try to get an actual address and telephone number for a company, not just their e-mail address.

4. Shop around for the best deals even when shopping online.

5. Watch out for high postage rates and for other hidden costs, such as VAT and other duty payable, particularly if goods are being sent from abroad. Remember, goods being sent from abroad may also take some time to be delivered and it may be difficult to sort out any complaints.

6. Check what the company’s policy is on returning goods. If they have come from abroad, there may be a hefty postage bill to return them. However, if the company is in the EU shoppers are entitled to certain information and a seven day cooling-off period from the date the goods or services are delivered (there are some exceptions).

7. Most importantly, print out the order, and keep any terms and conditions that appear on the web site, just in case of any disputes or problems later on.

For further advice on a shopping related issues contact Merton Council’s Trading Standards Consumer Advice Service on 020 8545 3026 or visit http://www.merton.gov.uk/complaints/consumeradvice.asp