Trading standards is advising online consumers in Devon, Somerset and Torbay to only buy from ‘reputable’ traders, and to refer to a new advice video if they experience any problems.

The new advice video has been commissioned by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) ahead of ‘Black Friday’ (Friday 27 November) and ‘Cyber Monday’, (Monday 30 November), the two big pre-Christmas shopping days this month.

The COVID-19 lockdowns have led to a rise in consumer spending online and 87 per cent of UK consumers are estimated to have purchased a product online.

The public spends around £2bn a week on online purchases.

However, according to Citizens Advice Consumer Service the sharp increase in online spending has also led to a near doubling of complaints.

People are having a range of problems when shopping online, including issues relating to scams and defective goods, and concerns about parcel delivery.

There will also likely be a record number of electrical products purchased online this year, and Electrical Safety First warn that consumers should be extra vigilant when it comes to these kinds of products.

Janet Quinn of Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards, said: “With Black Friday next week and the Christmas shopping rush approaching, it has never been more crucial for the public to understand their consumer rights and the responsibilities of online retailers.
“The internet can provide buyers with great opportunities in terms of choice and convenience. However, at the same time, they must be wary and only buy from reliable sources to ensure quality and safety. Sub-standard electrical products can be hazardous, and Trading Standards advice to shoppers is to do their homework before buying; check a trader out online and read any reviews. If you’re not fully satisfied, don’t buy from them.”

You can find the Citizens Advice Consumer page here:

The public can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.