Stay safe. Ask the right questions.

Christmas will soon be here and this year it is shaping up to be a Christmas like no other. With another enforced lockdown in the run up to the festive period, a shopping outing to the high street will not be possible. This means that as consumers we are forced to shop online – but without the security of seeing a product before we buy it, we should be on our guard and exercise caution when making an online purchase.

Organisations like Trading Standards have strained resources and sadly this short-sighted approach often leaves gaps for unsafe and counterfeit products to be freely available. We must be clear on this next point – those products are manufactured and distributed by those who have zero regard for the safety of their end users. Therefore, how can you be safer?

Here are our top tips for being savvy when shopping for electronic products online. We encourage you to consider these before you buy, especially when it comes to electronic devices with mains chargers.

1. Do your research
It is important to have some knowledge about the product before you make a purchase. Read up on brands and product models so you can easily spot when a product listing doesn’t appear to be all it seems. Always read listings carefully and watch for typographical errors.

2. Buy from reputable sellers
Well known retail brands may not always be the cheapest but they will have genuine products for sale and these products will be sold with a warranty. If you do buy products from a reseller, make sure you ask them about their supplier quality assurance processes. Reputable sellers should have authentication procedures in place as well as technicians to inspect the quality of the products they are selling before they are listed.

3. Take notice of the price
It is worth running a price comparison between sites – if the product is too cheap, there will be a reason! Check the advertised price against the Recommended Retail Price (the RRP) and question the products validity if the numbers don’t add up.

4. Look out for the regulatory standards
Every electronic product offered for sale by law must display a CE mark, additional granted approvals marks, manufacturer/importer details sufficient to contact them, a country of manufacture, a product type, batch or serial number and the specifics of any ratings such as voltage and class of use. Mains products must come with a correctly fitted and fused mains plug attached.
If this information is not displayed anywhere on the product, then it will not have been manufactured to legal standards.

5. Review the Packaging
Reputable brands and businesses invest in quality packaging so if you receive an item in ill-fitting or very low cost product packaging then it could be a warning sign. Similarly, there should be information enclosed about the safe operation of the product, warranty and the manufacturers contact details.

We can all stay safer if we take a moment to ask why something appears to be such a bargain.