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Dublin, November 24th 2015 – As shoppers hunt for bargains this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, ECC Ireland is advising Irish consumers to remain vigilant and be aware of their rights when buying online.

Traditionally the biggest date in the U.S. shopping calendar, ‘Black Friday’ has become a popular term for the day after Thanksgiving when many U.S. consumers look to take advantage of special offers in stores. It is a term that is beginning to take root in Europe also, with many retailers offering a variety of discounts and deals during these two major shopping events.

Research has shown that Black Friday, which takes place on November 27th, is becoming more popular in Ireland with an estimated €109 million expected to be spent, up 31 per cent from 2014. Less well known is Cyber Monday on November 30th, however 32 per cent of Irish consumers surveyed still intend to log on and shop online, compared to 23 per cent last year.

It is expected that online shopping will continue to grow in popularity in Ireland as 62 per cent of consumers here felt confident making online purchases from other EU countries in 2014, that’s according to the 2015 Consumers Conditions Scoreboard published by the EU Commission. However, the scoreboard also revealed that further awareness of consumer rights is needed.

With this in mind, ECC Ireland has some tips for consumers looking to take advantage of Cyber Monday bargains online.

Be vigilant when making purchases from devices

A recent survey found that Irish consumers are among the most mobile in Europe, with 2.3 million owning a smartphone and 57 per cent using their device to shop online. For this reason, it is important to be vigilant when shopping from devices. Consumers are strongly advised not to click on links or attachments in unsolicited texts or e-mails as these may contain malware or phishing threats. Storing personal information such as account names or passwords on devices should be avoided, and consumers should be cautious when accessing sensitive information (such as banking details) on a public Wi-Fi network as these tend to be riskier than private networks.

Do your research

Consumers are advised to be vigilant when buying online and to research a trader before making a purchase. Under EU legislation, traders are obliged to provide full contact details including a postal address, which consumers are encouraged to verify through further internet searches. An internet search can also help to turn up any negative feedback left by other consumers. If buying brand or designer goods, it is advisable to check with the brand/company directly to verify if the website is an authorised seller.

Pay securely

A trader’s website should allow consumers to pay securely. When consumers are asked to input payment details, the URL for the site should begin with “https” to indicate a secure connection. Consumers are advised to click on the security certificate to ensure that it is in date. It is also advisable to check that your own computer’s antivirus settings and firewall are up to date. Paying with a credit card or through a service such as PayPal offers some additional protection in the event of a problem. Consumers are strongly advised not to send payment by bank or money transfer as this money cannot be traced thereafter.

Read the small print

It is advisable to read the small print and any terms and conditions before purchasing. In particular, consumers are encouraged to read up on the trader’s payment, delivery, and cancellation policies.

Buy from EU sites where possible

EU consumer legislation covers the 28 Member States and certain other European countries (such as Iceland and Norway) only. If consumers buy from websites based outside of Europe, their EU consumer rights may not apply. For this reason, consumers are advised to thoroughly research a trader before buying, particularly if the website is an unfamiliar one. Websites such as www.whois.com allow a consumer to check where and when a website was registered, which may help to provide some guidance as to whether or not the site is based in the EU. It is important to note that where a website uses an address associated with a particular country (e.g. a website ending .co.uk), this is not necessarily an indication that the site is based in that country.

 

In 2014, ECC Ireland was actively involved in 1,040 cases; these were cases where further assistance was required through the ECC-NET. Nearly 90 per cent of the transactions which gave rise to complaints were conducted by means of distance selling, with e-commerce representing nearly 80 per cent of cases.

The ECC-Net’s e-Commerce report for 2014, provides a handy checklist for consumers with key information and advice for those looking to buy online. This checklist can be found on the ECC Ireland website.

For more information/media queries, please contact Martina Nee, ECC Ireland press and communications officer, on (01) 8797 643 or email mnee@eccireland.ie. ECC Ireland can also be found on Twitter @eccireland.

 

**ENDS**

Notes to Editor:

ECC Ireland is part of the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net), which covers 30 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland), and offers a free and confidential information and advice service to the public on their rights as consumers, assisting consumers with cross-border disputes. ECC Ireland is co-financed by the European Commission and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.