Warning over fake goods online

CONSUMER watchdogs are expecting a flood of calls from online shoppers because of a number of websites selling fake Ugg boots.

The European Consumer Centre, based in Dublin, said it had received a number of calls from people before Christmas concerned they may have been ripped off online from certain websites.

Of particular concern is a site called cheapuggsireland.com, which despite the name, is actually based in China.

The boots have been hugely popular in recent years, but the ECC said there were a huge number of sites either selling fake versions of the boots, or simply pretending to sell them to take money off unsuspecting shoppers.

Caroline Curneen, PR and marking manager at the ECC, said there had been a number of clients who had contacted them before Christmas and more were expected in the new year.

“In January, inevitably we are going to get a lot of complaints that the boots either did not arrive or they did arrive but they were fake,” she said.

The ECC launched a safe online shopping campaign last year and this had had a positive effect, with many people contacting the consumer watchdog before making online purchases, to ensure they are buying from a reputable site.

However, problems still remain and consumers are still losing money.

One issue which prompted a number of complaints this year were customers of some booking agents losing money on hire cars or hotels.

Problems arose with sites such as Decode Car Hire, based in Britain, and the 1800 Hotels site. In some cases consumers booked online, only to discover on arrival at their destination that no booking had been made and they were forced to pay again.

The ECC said many people now no longer have credit cards, yet booking with a credit card offers more protection when making online bookings or purchases than debit cards.

The ECC also dealt with claims of compensation by air passengers whose travel plans were affected by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.

“A lot of people soon to be under the impression that they can claim for trains or ferries [when their flight was grounded] but airlines are not liable for that,” said Caroline Curneen. However, she said there had been a delay in some cases with airlines paying expenses to discommoded passengers, although this was likely to be due to the fact that receipts had to be analysed by airlines before the money is paid out.

“There has actually been a drop in the number of contacts made to our office in 2010 because people are buying less. We have seen people contacting us in advance of buying things because they are less able to take a hit if it goes wrong,” she said.

www.eccireland.ie

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