I am always advising people to buy goods from UK traders, where possible, as our consumer protection laws are amongst the best in the world.
I hear so many stories from readers who purchased from sellers in the likes of China and then regret it.
There are three issues that crop up time and time again: i) long delivery times ii) fake goods and iii) non-existent customer service.
Traders in China, for example, often won't provide any remedy if something goes wrong.
In an investigation, I found that shoppers using the Amazon platform are not always easily able to tell who - and where - they are buying from.
This is because many Amazon sellers based in China are using the terms ‘UK’ or ‘EU’ in their trading names.
Why would they do this? Well, in my opinion, the reason is clear; They do it to mislead the consumer into believing that they are purchasing from a seller based in the UK (or sometimes the EU).
This practice, which many Chinese sellers are adopting on Amazon, is catching many customers out.
Amazon user Das Kwig, was clearly misled by the use of an ‘English’ sounding trading name when he ordered a pair of jeans on the Amazon platform.
Das said that the product page showed ‘sold by’ on the right side of the screen beneath the ‘buy now’ button.
The seller was described as ‘Be Jealous’, which Das considered be an ‘English’ company. On this basis, he placed his order. Two weeks later he discovered that the seller was in fact located in China.
Consumers have lots of basic rights, the fundamental right being that you should always get ‘what it says on the tin’ and therefore never be misled.
This means that goods must be as they are described by the seller, and that everything the seller tells you (both verbally and as presented in the listing), must be true, and the seller must not mislead you in any way.
What Amazon says
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I put my findings, the view of the law, and case studies to Amazon over concerns that customers are being misled.
A spokesman said: "Like all retailers, we design our store to help customers find and discover products that we think may best meet their needs.
"Our mission is to build the best shopping experience for customers, with unbeatable prices, selection, and convenience.
"When customers choose to purchase an item on our store, we clearly advise whether Amazon or a third party seller is fulfilling the order.
"Should a customer want further details on the seller, that information is accessible in a single click."
Amazon said it offers its own protection scheme for customers who buy from third party sellers.
"The Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee provides additional protection for customers who buy from third party sellers on Amazon.co.uk.
"It covers both the timely delivery and the condition of your items.
"If either are unsatisfactory, you can report the problem to us and our team will determine if you are eligible for a refund."
Amazon clearly misses the important point that I make, as in my view many consumers will not take the step of clicking on the seller’s ‘English’ sounding name to see if it really is located in the UK.
However, next time you shop on Amazon make sure that you do take this important step before pressing the 'buy now' button.