Beware online rip-offs

17 February 2022

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new campaign to help shoppers spot and avoid misleading online practices that could result in them being ripped off.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new campaign to help shoppers spot and avoid misleading online practices that could result in them being ripped off.

If the campaign identifies any commercial practices that adversely affect consumers then they can take enforcement action if a firm breaches consumer protection law and fails to respond to warnings.

In a poll of over 2,000 UK adults:

  • 7 out of 10 had experienced misleading online practices
  • 85% believed businesses using them were being dishonest with their customers
  • And 83% were less likely to buy from them in the future

The misleading online practices, include:

  • Hidden charges (85% of respondents) – unexpected compulsory fees, charges or taxes being added when someone tries to make an online purchase.
  • Subscription traps (83%) – – misleading a customer into signing up to, and paying for, an unwanted subscription that can be difficult to cancel.
  • Fake reviews (80%) – reviews which do not reflect an actual customer’s genuine opinion or experience of a product or service.
  • Pressure selling (50%) – a tactic used to give a false impression of the limited availability or popularity of a product or service.

The CMA’s Chief Executive, stated: ‘As online shopping grows and grows, we’re increasingly concerned about businesses using misleading sales tactics, like pressure selling or hidden charges, to dupe people into parting with their cash.’

The campaign also has the support of Citizens Advice, to whom consumers can report problems with misleading practices that they have encountered online.

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