The Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service (TSS) are warning consumers to beware of websites posing as UK based businesses, selling poor quality dresses at knock down prices.
With wedding season now well upon us, the hunt for the perfect dress, mother of the bride or guest outfit may lead many to search online for that ‘something special’.
Trading Standards has received a number of complaints from consumers who have been left out of pocket by what appear to be UK based, professional occasion wear stockists.
Consumers have told how they have purchased items from a website ending in ‘.co.uk’ and having what appeared to be a registered UK business address.
Expecting the glamour and quality depicted by the trader, they were all left dismayed on receiving an ill-fitting reproduction with only a passing resemblance to the clothing advertised.
On attempting to return the item, the traders often refuse to acknowledge the poor quality or provide any redress.
In addition to this, some consumers have then faced an unexpected customs bill to import the item from China.
Cara McParland from the Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service said: “What appear to be genuine, professional websites frequently use images taken from other internet suppliers.
“Therefore, consumers should always exercise caution when buying online and do their research before making any payment.
“If dealing with an unfamiliar website a simple Google search of the trader’s name and website address along with the word ‘review’ or ‘scam’ can return any poor or negative reviews left by others who have experienced unsatisfactory service or, worse, been scammed out of their money.”
“A ‘.co.uk’ website address and a UK geographic address guarantees nothing. A trader can be based anywhere in the world and as such will have no intention of giving UK consumers their right to a 14 day “cool-off” period when buying online from UK or EU based websites.
“Trading Standards Service would advise that when purchasing anything online you use a secure method of payment. Using a credit or debit card may provide you with more protection. Don’t pay via money transfer. A bargain that seems too good to be true probably is.”
If you think you need more advice on this or you wish to seek advice on any other consumer related matter, please contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.