The trader

Updated: 2/8/2016

Here are some tips for a safer purchase.

Know the trader            

  • Try to shop on a familiar or recommended site and make sure you have the name and full contact details, including postal address, of the web trader so you know who you are dealing with. Do not rely on just an e-mail address or a post office box.
  • Do not assume that a website is based in the country indicated by its web address, e.g. ‘.ie.’ does not necessarily mean the trader is based in Ireland. It should be stated somewhere on the website in which country the trader is registered. Your rights and ECC-Net’s ability to help you depends on where the company is based. If this information is not clearly available consider shopping elsewhere.
  • Remember: If you shop from websites based outside the EU, Norway and Iceland your European consumer rights will not necessarily apply and you may face unexpected customs and tax bills!
  • When shopping through auctions, be aware of that sometimes the seller is not a professional seller and therefore the e-commerce protection is not applicable.

Check the trader

  • Beware of sites that have only recently been set up. Fraudulent sites come and go very quickly.
  • Check for trust marks. Electronic labels on websites may indicate that the e-trader has agreed to follow certain rules and regulations of a trust mark scheme.[1] However, some trust marks can be fake and one way to check this is to click on the trust mark to verify its official registration.
  • Always research the background of unfamiliar web traders before purchase (e.g.www.whois.com). A simple internet search should reveal any negative feedback about the trader left by other consumer’s in their consumer reviews, but be aware that some unscrupulous traders may also leave false positive feedback about themselves, especially on their own websites.[2]
  • Don't be fooled by a prominent search engine ranking. Web based fraudsters may pay for search advertising so their sites appear at the top of search results.
  • If you are having doubts about the trader, the terms and conditions or do not know if the trader is reliable, contact the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in the country where you live and ask for advice.

[1] Trust marks report 2013 “Can I trust the trust mark”, p. 7.

[2] Ibid. page 51.