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CMA urges UK shoppers to report online rip-offs

By Cenia Zitter


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Image: Online shopping via Pexels.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is promoting the next step of its ‘Online Rip-Off Tip-Off’ campaign, by educating consumers on misleading online sale tactics and encouraging them to report businesses who make use of them.

The campaign is led by Martin Lewis Money Show co-presenter Angellica Bell and enables consumers to tip off businesses who implement pressure-selling, hidden charges, subscription traps and fake reviews to their selling tactics via a new digital reporting form.

“We all feel the pressure of securing bargains, making us more susceptible to being ripped off. It’s frustrating when this happens and it’s time we call out these online retailers and report them to the CMA,” Bell said in the official press release.

To help businesses stop sale practices that could break the law, the CMA published a letter addressed to them, defining ‘online red lines’ regarding pressure selling, such as misleading price reduction and urgency claims.

This way the problem can be tackled from both ends.

The letter provides practical illustrations and is addressed to all businesses that sell or promote products online to UK shoppers.

A survey with 3,700 UK adults carried out by the CMA has revealed that 67 percent feel pressured by the current costs of living which leads to desperation of finding good bargains. 71 percent even think the offered deals will help to save money, even if these might not be real.

On top of that, the poll disclosed that one in four UK consumers have been taken in by misleading online advertising before, while 23 percent didn’t even realise that last minute pressure tactics might not be genuine.

All in all, 68 percent of the participants agreed that these tactics should be banned.

George Lusty, senior director for Consumer Protection at the CMA, added: “Now more than ever, every penny counts and the CMA is concerned that some businesses are using underhand tactics designed to part shoppers from their cash.  This poll is just the tip of the iceberg as we believe the true number of victims of these rip-offs is much higher as they are often extremely difficult to spot.”