Council warns be careful cyber shopping and beware of counterfeit goods

The Highland Council’s Trading Standards are advising consumers to buy from reputable websites and be wary of websites selling cheap designer goods, DVDs, CDs etc as they may turn out to by counterfeit.

The warning comes in the run up to Christmas after one such Highland cyber shopper was tricked into buying fake DVD’s from an internet site. 

Caithness resident, John Green while browsing on the internet clicked on internet site ‘clickdvdhouse’ and found, what he thought, would be the perfect Christmas present for his wife.

Mr Green browsed the site and discovered that ‘classic compiled episodes of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ were being offered for sale. Many readers may recall this TV series from their childhood as it became something of an American institution during the 1970’s and was inspired by the novels of Laura Ingalls Wilders of the same name.  The programme was originally aired on the NBC network and run for approximately 200 episodes.

Mr Green explains: “My wife was a big fan when she was younger and I thought this would be the ideal Christmas gift.  I ordered a complete set of DVD’s from the website which came to around $86.00.  This included $24.00 for postage and packaging.   All in all this would have cost me around £69.00 which I paid by card.  

Mr Green eagerly waited for the DVD’s to arrive and after 14 days a package dropped through his letter box. Excitement soon turned to disappointment however, when he opened the package from ‘clickdvdhouse’, to discover that the DVD’s he ordered were of poor quality and production and had been sent to him from China! 

Mr Green adds: “The DVD’s did not even come in a proper DVD case but video cassette cases.  The production of the labelling and overall appearance was terrible”.   Mr Green contacted Consumer Direct about his disappointing purchase and was directed to Highland Council Trading Standards for advice about getting his money back. 

Bob Jones, Principal Trading Standards Officer from Highland Council advises:  “Mr Green explained to us how he came to buy DVD’s from a site called, ‘clickdvdhouse’ which claims to be based in the United States.  The site terms and conditions state that if any consumer is not satisfied with their purchase then they can receive a full 100% refund.  However, there is no information about where the business is based so consumers cannot return their goods to get a refund.” 

Bob Jones adds:  “Online shoppers should take their time to familiarise themselves with the website they are browsing before going ahead with a purchase.  A few simple checks that can be carried out quickly include trying to identify the seller and where they are based. By carrying out a quick “WHOIS” at search: www.networksolutions.com/whois consumers can find out in seconds the name and address of the person behind registering the website.” 

Highland Council Trading Standards are urging all consumers to be careful this Christmas when shopping online and suggest a few further web-shopping tips:  

• Search the internet for user reviews of the website.

• Double click the padlock symbol to reveal the company who registered the site.

• Phone the UK landline number to check if it is genuine.

• Check any UK postal address given to see if it exists.

• Be aware that not all web addresses ending in ‘co.uk’ are from businesses based in the UK.

Bob Jones further warns: “Some rogue websites have even gone to the extent of ‘cloning’ the genuinely branded goods websites, where they take an exact copy of the genuine website layout. This practice can catch shoppers out as they are convinced they are shopping on the official website of a reputable firm.  The message is with sites such as these that if prices are very low – they are probably too good to be true! Although these checks are not entirely fool-proof, any information that does not add up should alert the consumer to possible scams and fake websites.  If goods are being offered at knock down prices, consumers should think twice before parting with their money.” 

Consumers wishing more information or advice about buying on the internet should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or visit their website on /

Anyone with queries about goods they have bought over the internet or who wish to report a possible crime relating to counterfeit goods should contact  The Highland Council Trading Standards on 01463 228700 or trading.standards@highland.gov.uk or visit their offices at:  Highland Trading Standards, 38 Harbour Road, Inverness, IV1 1UF.
For further Highland Trading Standards news please go to http://www.highland.gov.uk

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14 Dec 2009
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