A survey of more than 1100 people by the NSW Department of Fair Trading has found 39% of Australians face problems when buying goods and services online.
Accounting for an estimated half of these problems are goods being
delivered late, damaged or not arriving altogether.
These are on on top of less common problems faced by online shoppers,
including when a product is faulty, turns out to be different to what was
advertised or ends up costing more due to unexpected fees and charges.
The survey results illustrate the need for more transparency when it comes
to buying from online retailers, says Matt Kean, the minister for
innovation and better regulation.
"It's really important to remember you have the same rights buying online
from an Australian supplier as you do when you walk into a shop," he says.
Buying from overseas retailers presented more troubles for Australians shoppers. People
identified a lack of clarity due to the conversion of currency and the cost
of shipping. Issues with communication were recognised and there were cases
where credit cards were used fraudulently.
NSW Fair Trading offered several tips to help people shop safely online; an
activity Australians spend more than $11 billion on each year.
Shoppers should check a retailer's refund and dispute resolutions policies before
clicking the 'buy now' button.
Using a trusted third-party to process the payment can help, such as
PayPal, as they can process a chargeback or a refund when notified of
problems with a purchase.
As can running a search of the supplier's name online to find reviews or warnings about the business.
Fair Trading's own complaints register – a portal that publishes the
monthly complaints lodged against businesses – could help identify sites
with sketchy histories.
Viewing the companies named-and-shamed for the most recent month available
would highlight Viagogo as questionable, a ticket reseller with a
documented history of selling inflated – and at times, non-existent – tickets to entertainment events.
Other online retailers to make the dubious list include Grays Online,
Webjet Marketing and Shakuhachi.