Beware of pirate copies when you Christmas shop
More and more consumers are going online for their Christmas gifts this year. The E-barometer for the latest quarterly report shows that every other person will be e-shopping Christmas gifts online. Out of those people, four out of ten are planning to buy the majority of their Christmas gifts before December 1st. Books is the most popular Christmas gift, followed by clothes, toys, home electronics and beauty products.
But you should be cautious before entering the internet in search of gifts. Before the Christmas shopping season truly begins to pick up speed, temporary internet stores that sell pirate copies begin to pop up. Consumers who buy from these websites are at a risk of ending up empty handed or placing fake stuff under the tree on Christmas Eve. Copied merchandise can pose a health risk to the user since the products rarely meet current quality and safety standards. For example, pirate copies of toys and perfume can sometimes contain substances that are toxic or that can cause allergic reactions.
– During this time of the year we receive quite a number of questions and complaints about these types of internet stores. Consumers who contact us often want to know if it is safe to buy from an internet store or what to do if they haven’t received their product or if they have received a copy of a brand name product, says Jolanda Girzl, Director for the European Consumer Centre Sweden.
When the consumer tries to contact the company to make a complaint about the product or notify them that it has not been delivered it might be tricky to get a hold of the company. A lot of times there is no contact information on the website or the contact information only consists of a contact form.
– The best thing to do is to always be critical about these types of websites. You should also keep in mind that buying pirate copied products helps to support organized commercial crime, whose operations help to create unreasonable work conditions. We in the Authority Network against pirate copying recommend that everyone who is going shop for Christmas gifts online use the advice offered by the European Consumer Centre Sweden, says Jolanda Girzl.
5 tips for this year’s Christmas shopping
- Check out the company. Company name, address, email address and telephone number should be available on the website. If there is only a contact form you should look for the products at another company. Go to different internet forums to see what customers have written about the company.
- Evaluate the website. Grammatical errors, low quality pictures or a lack of information about consumer rights might be an indication that the website is selling pirate copies. You should always be suspicious of internet stores with web addresses that contain the word “cheap”, “outlet” or other words that indicate low prices.
- Examine the price. Pirate copies are often sold at considerably lower prices than what is offered at the official retailer’s internet store. “Of the price is too good to be true, it most likely is” is a guiding principle that you should keep in mind when shopping online.
- Check to see if the company is an approved retailer. Go to the brand name’s website and check to see if the company can be found on the list of approved retailers.
- Pay with a card. That way you can turn to the card issuer for help with a refund, so called chargeback, if anything should go wrong and the company refuses to help you.
- Download the European Consumer Centre Sweden’s checklist: 10 tips – how to identify a pirate copy on the internet (in Swedish)
About the European Consumer Centre Sweden
The European Consumer Center Sweden is an independent unit within the Swedish Consumer Agency which is included in the European Consumer Centres Network and which is partially financed by the EU commission. The European Consumer Center Sweden provides free advice to consumers who buy products and services outside of Sweden within the EU, Norway and Iceland.
About the Authority Network against pirate copying
In order to counteract pirate copying and raise the knowledge level about pirate copying in the community, the European Consumer Centre Sweden/the Swedish Consumer Agency is a part of the Authority Network, together with Swedish Customs, the Medical Products Agency, the Swedish Police and PRV (the Swedish Patent and Registration Office) in the efforts against pirate copying.
Questions can be answered by Director Jolanda Girzl, +46 76-110 40 52. Our administrators can be reached through the European Consumer Centre Sweden’s switchboard at +46 54 19 41 50.