Smart Consumer

Thursday 24 July 2014

Beware bogus online sites posing as the genuine article

Published 06/12/2012|05:00

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Q For those of you who shopped online last week on 'Cyber Monday', here's hoping you don't have the same experience as Siobhan who got in touch about a dress she bought.

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Having carried out a web search for 'Karen Millen Ireland dresses' she found a website that had many items from that store for "unbelievably reduced prices". (It is crucial to note that the website had a different address to the official site, which is karenmillen.com).

Siobhan bought an aubergine lace dress for €140 on November 5 and it arrived a week later. The dress was "in perfect condition" she says but it was too big.

"When I went to return it," writes Siobhan, "I found no returns slip or policy in the bag. When I looked at the invoice, the information it contained was incorrect."

She used the contact form on the website to contact them about returning the dress and also emailed them at the address used to confirm her purchase. Despite one initial response there has been no further response.

"I am eager to get to the bottom of this", says Siobhan "even if they are an illegitimate service."

A To be blunt, I'm afraid there is little Siobhan can do to resolve this.

The site she purchased from was not the legitimate Karen Millen retailer. It is not uncommon for sites to pop up pretending they are a well known brand, whereas in fact they are merely posing as such. She will not be able to get a replacement or refund from the operation behind this, who seem to be based in China.

The site looks good and it's so easy to make this mistake. Some key signs that should set the alarm bells off are the fact that they give no address or contact details, and you can only contact them via a form from the site. Plus there is no information at all on delivery and returns.

Yet all of that information is legally required under EU law and it is imperative that the first thing you do when you find a web trader you're not familiar with is to find out where they are and check for full contact details.

If that information isn't there I would advise not to buy. An internet search can bring up negative chat and so it is useful to do that before buying from an unknown trader also.

It's a hard lesson learned but shouldn't put anyone off shopping online. Just know what information to look for if the trader is unknown and you'll be all right.

tleonard@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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