The summer holidays often come packed with special events. Many weddings take place during the summer, while Debs season is just beginning. While searching for outfits for such occasions, many consumers will turn to the internet in search of greater options and offers. However, this can sometimes lead to problems if consumers find themselves caught out by unreliable traders.

ECC Ireland (European Consumer Centre) has received a number of complaints about rogue dress sites over the summer. In many cases, problems arose because the website turned out not to be based in the country in which it was purporting to do business. Such websites tended to use a domain registered in a certain European country and marketed items to consumers based within the EU. However, in many instances, the business was not operating out of a physical address in that country.

In some cases, traders were found to be operating from outside the EU entirely. This can lead to difficulties as consumers often face long delays in delivery and may be left disappointed if their order does not arrive in time for the special occasion. In addition, European consumer rights may not apply to purchases of items from outside the EU, causing further difficulty for those seeking redress.

ECC Ireland strongly advises consumers to thoroughly research a trader when shopping online for special occasions. It is important to be aware that a website which uses a domain address associated with a certain country may not necessarily be based in that country.

It is advisable to check that the trader provides full contact details on their website and also to conduct an internet search for any further information that may be available. This may help to turn up any negative feedback left by other consumers.

Consumers are further encouraged to be cautious of any offers advertising expensive or designer garments at vastly reduced prices. In many instances, where an offer seems too good to be true, it is.

It is advisable to pay using a secure method of payment such as a credit card when ordering online, as your bank or card provider may be able to provide some assistance in the event of a problem. In particular, consumers are strongly advised not to send payment by bank transfer as this money cannot be traced thereafter.

If you have experienced a problem while shopping online in the EU, you can contact ECC Ireland on (01) 8797 620 or via www.eccireland.ie.

I1

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.