How to spot and avoid a fake electrical purchase

1-electrical-safety-first-primaryRecently an investigation from Electrical Safety First revealed that one in six consumers had bought a fake electrical product as a Christmas gift in the past. The Charity found that the majority of people couldn’t tell a genuine from a fake electrical product. Electrical Safety First is a UK Charity dedicated to reducing and preventing damage, injuries and death caused by electricity. More information can be found on their website. http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Buying a fake isn’t just a scam, fake electrical items have been known to explode and catch fire. If you’ve bought the goods through social media or an online marketplace, it can be much more difficult to trace the seller. Before you take advantage of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any other kind of sales deals, I asked Emma Drackford, Head of Communications at Electrical Safety First to share some advice  on the best ways to spot and avoid buying a fake. #switchedon National Consumer Week.

How to avoid buying fake electrical goods?
Our top tip on how to avoid buying a fake is to purchase electrical products directly from reputable retailers, this way you can be assured you’re buying the real thing.  Some fake products can be almost impossible to identify as they have sophisticated packaging and design. However, internally they are usually missing vital safety components meaning the products could be at risk of exploding.

The most common ways to come across fakes:
According to our consumer research, most people who have purchased fakes have done so on online marketplaces (such as Amazon, eBay, etc.), but there is a growing trend of buying fakes on social media.

If you’re shopping for a bargain online, keep your eyes peeled for any of the following signs.

How to spot fake electrical products online:

  • If a bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is! Check prices and shop around, if possible visit the high street.
  • Beware of a product with solely glowing reviews, especially if the reviewers aren’t verified. Some sites cross-reference user reviews with their buyer database and label those people as “verified purchasers”.
  • If there is no address supplied, or there is just a PO Box, be wary; many fake electrical goods are manufactured overseas, where they will not be safety tested and are produced as quickly and cheaply as possible. A ‘co.uk’ URL doesn’t guarantee the website is UK-based.
  • Beware of words like ‘genuine’ ‘real’ or ‘authentic.’ Most reputable retailers don’t need to use these descriptions to sell their products.
  • If you can’t see a padlock symbol on the bottom of the screen, do not enter your payment details. Look for websites that allow you to pay safely.

How to spot if you’ve bought a fake item

  • Inspect the packaging and item carefully. Look out for the tell-tale signs of flimsy packaging and substandard printing, such as spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Compare your item to an online image from a trusted, high street retailer.
  • Look for a legitimate safety certification label. All electrical products will have one or more safety certifications on their label if made by a legitimate manufacturer. If the certification mark is present only on the packaging, but not on the product itself, there’s a good chance the product is fake.
  • Make sure everything that should be there is there. Fake products may not include supplementary materials such as a manual or a product registration card or even all the parts!
  • Check the plug. If you’ve purchased your product from a UK retailer, look to see whether the appliance has a three-pin UK plug or charger.
  • Trust your instinct. If you are still uncertain about your product for any reason, you’re probably right to be wary. Visit the high street to compare your product to those on sale in store; if your item varies in any way do not use it.

What to do if you think you might have purchased a fake electrical product:
If you suspect you have purchased a fake, stop using it immediately. Report it to Trading Standards so that they can take action against the seller; selling fake products is illegal and puts people’s lives at risk. For advice on how to be refunded and for more advice on how to spot a fake, visit Spot the fake.

Not fake but still faulty?
See Consumer Rights Act 2015 and Top Tips on How to Complain and for much more information, advice, guidance, tips and templates on complaining effectively get the book. How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

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Making Light Work of Black Friday

Making Light Work of Black Friday
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A recent Which? investigation into Black Friday revealed that 49% of products on offer were actually cheaper in the months before or after Black Friday.

Here are ten top tips for making the most of Black Friday this year.

1) Do you really need it?
Last year there were numerous examples of people arguing/fighting over products and then saying they didn’t know why they had bought what they had! Be prepared and whilst you can be calm and not be taken over by the moment make a list of things you want/need and/or would consider buying and add to it as you think of them. Use comparison websites and check regularly for prices and then on Black Friday check again and work out who is cheaper on the day and if it likely to be cheaper somewhere else before or after Black Friday. Keep your list of stockists, dates and prices, if you’re super organised use a spreadsheet!

2) Don’t get carried away
Have a price in mind for the amount(s) you are prepared to spend on an individual or total items. It is easy to get carried away especially in store as retailers put out items to entice you to spend more. That’s when you are most likely to buy things you don’t want or need so keep an eye on your list of items and prices!

3) Do your research and shopping online
Where possible do your research and shopping online. You are less likely to get caught up in the heat of the moment and if you are attracted to a bargain as a Christmas present, for example, you will have time to think about it before purchasing.

4) Remember, Black Friday is not just for Christmas
Or something like that. Many retailers spread their deals over the month and others throughout the year, in the belief that consumers will spend the same amount over a year whether the majority is across all year or concentrated over a few weeks.

5) Make sure that a promise is a promise
Some places have a price promise which is great. But read the small print! Some stores such as John Lewis won’t actually match an online price. Others will only match the price if it was on sale that exact same day and most, if not all, will tell you it has to be exactly the same item/bundle. So, exactly the same colour, make, model, free gift, warranty etc. (Although remember your consumer rights provide more protection than any “free warranty”).

6) Exercise your rights if needed
Under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015, the item must be of satisfactory quality, match the description be fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. This is the same for goods in sales, flash or otherwise. If it’s less than 30 days since the point of purchase you are entitled to a full refund, a repair or replacement thereafter. (But you can still accept this before the 30 days if you want to keep that bargain price!)

7) Buy wisely and know what to do if you change your mind
You are not entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind, so buy wisely! However, when buying off premises (such as online) you have 14 days from when you receive the item(s) in which to change your mind under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. Check the terms and conditions for returns though as you may have to pay return postage if the item is not in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

8) Transfer your consumer rights if it’s a present
Get a gift receipt where possible. The recipient can then use this if necessary. Remember though that the 30 day rule applies from the date of purchase not the date you give the present!

9) Don’t forget Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday follows Black Friday. There will be more bargains to be had. Also remember that bargains won’t stop after this time. In fact, as retailers reassess sales there will be many reductions on a wider variety of goods over a longer period of time.

10) Watch out for extras
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 retailers are not allowed to charge you for items they put in your online shopping basket or that you have bought as a result of a pre-ticked box. It is still happening, so keep an eye out for this and report them if and when you see it!

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