I recently appeared on Rip Off Britain Live to talk about dodgy online retailers and as the programme aired, the phone lines and email inboxes melted. It turns out the particular scam we were discussing was more widespread that we thought. The subject? Dodgy retailers on social media.
The way we shop has fundamentally changed over lockdown. Many people who were reluctant to buy things online were forced on to the web out of necessity. Online shopping has many benefits. It’s much easier to order things from the comfort of your sofa. But in some cases things are not always what they seem.
The latest scam involves goods that you order through adverts on Facebook or Instagram that aren’t even remotely what they claim to be online. Some shocking examples I’ve seen include:
How is this legal?
In short, it’s not. But herein lies the problem. Many of these sellers are based abroad and though their adverts look professional, they’re actually cheap and easy to fake.
These people are con-artists. They vanish and reappear in other guises faster than you can blink. Astoundingly, some of these retailers are semi-official and brazenly respond to emails.
Many people ask me why these firms bother to send anything, when it’s quite clearly a rip off. The simple answer is taking money and not delivering anything is a direct criminal act. However, sending something that arguably meets the criteria – even if it’s bonkers – means it becomes more of a grey area in the eyes of the law.
How can I avoid being ripped off?
Here are a few tips to help you avoid being bamboozled by dodgy online sellers.
If you have a complaint because your purchase isn’t up to scratch, Resolver can help. Start your complaint for free.