Products from all over the world, delivered to our door in a few clicks – that’s the beauty of online shopping. But what about the safety of the products we buy? As consumers, we have the right to expect that the products delivered to us will cause no harm.
The European Commission keeps a list of dangerous products found across Europe in the Rapid Alert System. Find out how the system works and check what products to avoid. You can also check the OECD portal on worldwide product recalls.
There are safety rules and mechanisms in place that have to be respected before making a product available to consumers. And national authorities across the European Union are taking action to ensure that products sold to us are safe. But there are also a number of things we can do ourselves. These are the most up to date tips from the European Commission on buying online safely:
Know who you’re buying from
When you buy something in a shop, you know where you can return it if there is a safety problem. But when you shop online, would you know who to contact? The more information you have on the manufacturer, the importer or the seller, the better. If contact information is visible, you know who to contact if a problem arises.
Check for safety warnings
Buying a toy? Online product information doesn’t always provide clear safety warnings. Examine any product illustrations and photos closely for warnings. For example, toys unsuitable for the under-threes should display a warning, often as a pictogram. For more tips on toy safety, click here.
Read the safety instructions
Read any safety instructions provided online. Check how to use the product safely. For example, a child’s bicycle seat should be labelled with the minimum age or size of the child for whom it is designed. If you’re unsure whether a product is suitable for your intended use, ask the seller or the website administrators for more information.
Read the reviews
Check the product & website reviews. Read online product reviews to see if other consumers have experienced any safety issues. Bear in mind that there may be some fake reviews among the genuine ones. Reviews of the website itself may also be available, which will let you know if there are any problems with the online seller.
Report safety issues
Found a safety issue? Speak up! If you encounter a safety problem with a product, report it to the seller and contact the relevant authority in your country. Consider also writing a product review to alert potential buyers. It will help other consumers make a safe choice!
Register your product
Consider registering your product with the manufacturer. If this option is available, you can register your product on the manufacturer’s website. This way you will immediately be informed about recalls, software updates and safety information.
Learn about about unsafe products. Get weekly notifications from the Rapid Alert System to stay up to date with the latest products identified as dangerous, new risks and trends. You can even personalise the alerts by specifying the type of product, brand, country of origin, etc.