31/10/2005

Consumers urged to check facts on internet buying

Consumers are being urged to check their legal rights when buying goods and services on the Internet.

The Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment's Trading Standards Service (TSS) issued the advice following the launch of National Consumer Week on Monday, which aims to raise the profile of consumer issues in an increasingly complex and competitive market.

As well as the rights consumers have when buying goods and services on the high street, consumers also have additional rights when purchasing on the Internet. The main protection consumers have is a seven-day cooling-off period. During this time, consumers have the legal right to cancel the contract, for whatever reason.

The law also sets out the information buyers should be given before and after making a purchase, including how to exercise their right to cancel the contract.

Kevin McNamara, TSS, said: "Consumers should be aware of their rights when purchasing goods or services on the Internet. Despite safeguards, consumers are still at risk of buying faulty or counterfeit goods, with no guarantee of a refund. The Internet can also attract scams such as spam emails."

A new survey on Internet selling, conducted by the Trading Standards Institute, found widespread breaches in the law, including the sale of counterfeit goods. In Northern Ireland, TSS checked 26 locally based sellers on the eBay auction site.

As a result, searches under warrant were carried out at six private homes, resulting in the seizure of over 600 counterfeit DVDs, computer equipment and quantities of counterfeit jewellery.

If consumers are concerned, they should contact Consumerline on 0845 600 6262 or log onto www.consumerline.org.

(MB/SP)

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