Shopping online increasingly 'dangerous'

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Shopping online is more popular than ever, but Consumer NZ warns it is also more dangerous than ever.

A report by the institute highlights the snags of shopping online.

Internet shopping has grown in popularity in New Zealand to the point where for every $3 spent in a conventional store, $1 is spent online.

But Consumer research manager Belinda Allan said people were being caught out by credit-card fraud and a lack of consumer protection laws.

"It's just being aware of some of the pitfalls," she said.

"Some products attract customs taxes, for example. By the time you add in those additional costs, it may be cheaper to buy from a New Zealand store."

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Medications, dietary supplements and health products attracted the dodgiest online retailers, she said.

Consumer tested the price of four items and found three were cheaper on American websites, but the products were not covered by domestic laws that protected consumers.

"Are the online savings enough to warrant the added stress?" the report asks.

"Online shopping retailers are often a few thousand kilometres away. They're not covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act, and sorting out problems can prove difficult via email."

Allan said people should be wary of giving credit-card details.

She said the strong kiwi dollar made online imports attractive, so people should not be scared off. They just needed to be wary.

 

The Press