Which?’s top tips for online shopping

1 December 2020, 16:04 | Updated: 8 December 2020, 15:40

Which?’s top tips for online shopping
Which?’s top tips for online shopping. Picture: Getty

As the festivities approach and online deals look ever more enticing, consumer expert Which? Has teamed up with LBC to ensure you can shop smart this Christmas.

Learn how to spot fake reviews

Thousands of sellers on marketplace sites offer free products in exchange for five-star reviews, a recent Which? investigation found. With this in mind, never take the overall rating of a product at face value – always read reviews. If there are reams of five-star reviews, ask yourself: how realistic it is to have so many people finding this product or service flawless?

Also take note of the negative reviews – this can help you spot if buyers found a common issue with the product.

For more advice on how to spot negative reviews, keep an eye out for Which?’s next expert article on LBC.

Watch out for scams

A shocking £16 million was lost to online shopping fraud between March and June alone this year. Please take extreme caution if you see deals advertised on marketplaces or social media that look too good to be true.

If you’re buying from online marketplaces, you should have a look at the seller’s profile.

Warning signs to watch out for include foreign seller locations, strange business names and a lack of contact details.

For even more detail on scam spotting, watch out for more expert advice from Which? on LBC.

Don’t risk buying a fake or dangerous product

66% of 250 products Which? bought from online marketplaces were dangerous or unsafe, an investigation found.

An easy way to make sure you’re buying a safe product is to purchase directly from a familiar brand that you trust.

If you’re buying from a brand you have not previously heard of, do even more research to ensure it is safe, such as searching for overall reviews of buyer’s experiences.

Make sure you’re getting the best deal

Last year Which? found that 95% of products promoted in Black Friday sales were the same price or cheaper during the six months after the sales event – so there's no need to rush for your credit card when you spot a good price.

Retailers use a range of psychological tactics to persuade you into hitting ‘buy now’ when you’re online, and time-limited offers are just one of them. There’s still time before Christmas to revisit the sites after Black Friday.

Know your rights

One of the most important things to remember is a cut-price deal does not mean your consumer rights should also be given the chop.

You have clear legal protections when you're shopping online, and Which? can help you understand what these are.

In the last year alone, more than 1.8 million people have used Which? advice to help resolve shopping problems – find out more about your online shopping rights at which.co.uk/shopsmart.

For thousands of expert, impartial and rigorous reviews that will help you shop smart, join Which?.