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Shopping online can be the way to go if you’re looking to save money, as it’s easier to compare prices when you can just hop from one website to the next – no having to hotfoot it round physical stores. And marketplaces like eBay or Amazon can make things even quicker, with all of the prices for different goods in one place.

However, if you’re not careful when you’re shopping online, you could end up spending money on a counterfeit version of the product you’re looking for, and this could be much worse quality. Find out how to avoid being tripped up by knock-off products when you’re shopping online, and what rights you have if this does happen.

Counterfeit goods

Let’s say you’re browsing Amazon looking for a high-tech case for your new iPhone. You come across one by a well-known brand that you know usually sells for £50 but it’s on sale for £15. Is it more likely that you’ve got a bargain deal or that the product is a fake?

Both eBay and Amazon have policies against counterfeit goods and they’ll often remove sellers if customers complain that their products aren’t what they claim. However, if you’re unlucky enough to buy one of these fake products before anyone else has realised there’s a problem, you don’t want to be left out of pocket.

Read the reviews

One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t accidentally buy counterfeit products on eBay or Amazon is to make sure you read a selection of the reviews thoroughly. It will soon be obvious if a product is a fake if a handful of reviews are saying the same thing and warning others of the poor quality.

Just make sure that the reviews seem genuine – if there’s a lot of glowing comments left in a short space of time, they could be fake reviews. You’ll be able to use your common sense with this – over the top and in-depth reviews could flag up warning signs, especially if the same reviewer has covered a lot of products by the same seller.

Your rights

Since October 2015, your rights when you’re buying any goods or services are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This states that all products have to be satisfactory, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. If you’ve bought something that turns out to be fake and is clearly of inferior quality, it’s definitely not as described and probably won’t last for a reasonable length of time.

If the products you’ve bought don’t stand up to these guidelines, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 entitles you to a refund for up to 30 days after you’ve bought it. You could still get a refund after this time, but it’s a bit trickier so it’s best to move quickly.

Because you bought the goods online, you’re also covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. This means you can get a full refund for up to 14 days after a product was delivered even if there’s nothing wrong with it. However, you might have to pay return delivery unless the goods were faulty.

Protecting purchases

As we’ve mentioned, both eBay and Amazon have policies for counterfeit products so as soon as you realise there’s something wrong with what you’ve bought, get in touch with the seller. If they don’t respond, contact the customer service department of the site itself and they should be able to arrange a refund if they can see there’s a problem with the products.

An extra way to protect larger purchases you make online is to pay for them using your credit card. This because anything that costs over £100 and is purchased using a credit card will be covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If there’s something wrong with what you’ve bought when it’s delivered, or if it never turns up at all, you’ll be able to get your money back either from the retailer or your credit card provider. Find out more about how this works with our Section 75 blog.

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