The number of complaints in NSW by people who shop online has increased dramatically, according to the state Office of Fair Trading.
It says about 1500 complaints have been lodged this year, double the number of four years ago and 22% more than last year.
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Fair Trading Minister Linda Burney warned buyers to take extra precautions and be aware of hidden costs. She admitted there was often little the government could do about shonky operators.
“Almost half the complaints related to the non-delivery or part delivery of goods, faults or damage, or the product not matching the description.
Burney said shoppers should only click “buy” once they had done their research and were using a site they trusted. The online shop should have a physical address, not just an email one, and shoppers should always check refund and return policies.
Common Traps included hidden costs such as packing, delivery, or currency conversion charges. “I urge all consumers to remember that the rules for online shopping are the same as traditional shopping,” Burney said. “Shop around, keep receipts and carefully check credit card statements.”
A full version of this article first appeared in Inside Retailing.