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Shoppers urged to avoid fake goods this Christmas

12:06 pm, Friday, 8th December 2023 - 7 months ago

General

Make sure your Christmas is the best it can be by avoiding buying fake goods. That’s the message from North East Lincolnshire’s Trading Standards officers, who are urging local people to buy wisely this festive season.

It comes as the big day approaches and people are shopping around to find the best bargains – but remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is!

Trading Standards officers say cheap, fake goods can not only be poor quality but, in the case of electrical goods, can also be dangerous, and in worst cases lead to fires.

Fake goods can at first sight be hard to determine, and as people struggle to pay bills and shop around to save money this year it can be easy to succumb to offers. Trading Standards officers say there are a number of precautions shoppers can take to reduce the risk of buying a fake product, including:

  • Buying from a reputable supplier and checking the barcode on the packaging using the scanner on your mobile phone.
  • To check if an item is genuine, you can look at the packaging. Legitimate goods will usually be protectively marked and feature the safety mark, either UKCA or CE.
  • Always ask for a receipt, and check that the seller accepts returns within a certain timeframe.

Cllr Ron Shepherd, Portfolio Holder for Safer and Stronger Communities, said:

 “As we approach the Christmas period, it’s easy to have your head turned by what appears to be a bargain, but people should avoid buying fake goods, including on social media sites.

“By purchasing fake goods, people are giving money to criminals, stealing from the original rights holders, and potentially putting the lives of loved ones at risk.

“To check if an item is genuine, you can look at the packaging. Legitimate goods will usually be protectively marked and feature the safety mark. Always ask for a receipt, and check that the seller accepts returns within a certain timeframe.

“Trading Standards see an influx of counterfeit products every year around the Christmas period. Whilst cheap toys, shirts, mugs and slippers might seem harmless and look good, they are likely to be made from unsafe materials which may break apart easily, pose choking hazards for small children or cause skin irritation.

“Cheap electrical devices and anything requiring a USB connection can pose a serious threat. E-bikes, e-scooters and electric hoverboards are all popular but there have been issues with cheap imports that do not comply to safety standards, with examples of them combusting whilst left on charge.

“We just want people to buy as safely and wisely as possible this Christmas and follow the guidelines if they are in any doubt.”

If you suspect the authenticity of branded items being sold, you can report it to Trading Standards through Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Further advice on how to avoid fake goods is available from the Anti-Counterfeiting Group at https://www.a-cg.org/consumer-advice

Experts have also warned that unscrupulous lenders could try to cash in on the festive period as households struggle to cope with rising food, fuel and energy bills.

Loan sharks target vulnerable people seeking credit and trapping them into a cycle of debt with exorbitant interest rates and threats of violence.

Figures released by the England Illegal Money Lending Team show that nearly one in ten of those who borrowed money from loan sharks in 2021 did so to cover the costs of Christmas.

If you’re worried about a friend or family member who is being taken advantage of by a loan shark, contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 for support or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk.

Here are 10 top tips for avoiding problems with goods and traders:

  1. Shop around for the best deals. You cannot return something just because you have found the product cheaper elsewhere.
  2. Ask for a gift receipt. It is usually the purchaser of goods, and not the person who receives them as gifts, who has consumer rights if they turn out to be faulty. However, shops may agree to sign over these rights to the person receiving the gift, so ask the shop if they will give a ‘gift receipt’.
  3. Make sure goods work properly and are not damaged before you wrap them.
  4. Hang onto your receipts. Traders are entitled to ask for some proof of purchase if you return faulty goods.
  5. Know who you are dealing with. Your rights are the same wherever you buy goods, whether you buy from a high street shop, a market trader, a street trader with a suitcase or from a temporary bargain shop. However, your chances of returning goods diminish if there’s a possibility that traders might not be around after Christmas.
  6. Know what you’re buying. Goods bought in a sale should perform the same as if they were priced normally, and your rights are the same unless defects are brought to your attention before you buy or should have been obvious if you’d examined the goods.
  7. Buy the right size and colour. If there’s nothing wrong with the item and you simply made a mistake or changed your mind, then you have no legal rights. Some retailers do have goodwill policies allowing these returns, so ask before you buy and get them to write the details on the receipt.
  8. Consider buying goods costing over £100 with a credit card, because you may get extra protection from the card issuer.
  9. Know how much credit costs. Don’t make any spur-of-the-moment decisions to buy on credit and never use illegal lenders. Compare interest rates, consider the total cost involved and how long you’ll have to pay. You don’t want to still be paying for this year’s gifts next Christmas.
  10. Watch out for fake goods. Only buy from reputable retailers. Counterfeit spirits can contain high levels of methanol which can pose a serious health risk. Be suspicious of cheap CDs, DVDs, designer clothes, electrical items and perfumes.

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