Trading Standards are warning consumers in the run up to Christmas to be extra careful when it comes to purchasing their gifts online, as complaints have risen 29% compared to this time last year. More and more people are choosing to shop online, thus allowing deviants to sell inferior products without any real worries about redress.
According to the ACG, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, there is now over £30bn spent annually online by shoppers, and 20% of all retail sales are made on the internet. In Oxfordshire alone, Trading Standards have received 60 complaints regarding counterfeit products since April this year, and 50% of these were about online purchases.
The service has noted a particular rise in complaints regarding counterfeit alcohol, clothing and accessories. The complaints made last Christmas were mainly about counterfeit GHD hair straighteners and UGG boots. Last year consumers were paying an average of £75 for GHD straighteners which were not only fake but were also found to be unsafe to use, and £65 for fake UGG boots that quickly fell apart.
Since April 2011, over 100 bottles of counterfeit vodka and wine have been seized by Oxfordshire Trading Standards. The wine tends to be the cheapest available that has been rebottled and an expensive looking label added, whilst the vodka was found to contain higher levels of methanol, which is potentially harmful. Whichever way you look at it, consumers don’t know what they are drinking or the potential risks to their health.