Last minute Christmas shoppers being urged to avoid rogue traders and stay safe

Published: 13 Dec 2018


With this year’s Christmas shopping rush well underway, Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards is offering consumers some timely advice to stay scam-free and safe this season.

Their main rule of thumb on the run-up to Christmas is to always buy from reputable sources; you may have to pay a bit more, but you are paying for pre-sale quality and safety checks.

Terry Hone, Executive Member for Community Safety and Waste Management, said: “Christmas is an expensive time of the year for everyone, especially families, which is why people can be tempted by cheap offers; but if the bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is.

“We urge all of our residents to read our top tips to avoid being cheated by unscrupulous traders, leaving them out of pocket and at risk of danger by purchasing sub-standard presents. We wish everyone in Hertfordshire a happy, safe and enjoyable festive season.”

Consumers can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for further advice and guidance on 0345 404 0506.

Top tips for Christmas shopping:

Make sure you know who you’re buying from

  • Cheap, fake goods can be very dangerous; e.g. dodgy electric products can lead to electric shocks, fires and explosions, while alcohol could contain deadly methanol.

  • Have the seller’s contact details so you can return faulty or misdescribed items.

  • Before Christmas, previously empty shops are often occupied by traders for a short time only and vanish after the festive period.

  • If your purchase costs more than £100, pay by credit card – it may offer you extra protection.

  • Be wary - take care to properly check out unfamiliar online and social media sellers.

  • Don’t be ambushed by door step sellers and those selling from the back of a van, just say, "no thank you!"

  • Be wary of temporary, unlicensed stalls selling very cheap goods where it is not clear who the seller is.

  • Fireworks for the new year – check CE mark – buy from reputable supplier. 

  • Toy safety

  • Be particularly careful with toys for children under three  – small parts are a choking hazard.

  • Make sure the toy is suitable for the child - check the age range.

  • Keep and follow age-recommended guidelines as these relate to risks such as sharp points or choking hazards.

  • Small parts and loose or shredding hair can be a choking hazard.

  • Check your intended gift is for children – festive novelties can look like toys; keep them away from inquisitive children.

  • Beware of bargains – jumble and car boot sales might be a good place to get a deal, but take extra care; worn or broken toys might be unsafe.

  • Check the voltage of electrical toys is 230V 50Hz (the UK’s usual domestic voltage).

  • Check toys are fitted with a three-pin UK plug or charger. Use the charger that comes with the toy – cheap knock-off chargers can be dangerous

  • All legitimate toys will have the ‘CE’ mark. Don’t buy without it – the CE mark means the toy has been assessed for safety.

Electricals

  • Check for branding on the packaging or product, and look for any spelling mistakes. Could it be a counterfeit copy?

  •  Is there a ‘CE’ mark? Is the product fitted with a three pin UK plug or charger?

  • If you’re buying electrical goods as presents, remind the recipient to register the products by going to https://productrecall.campaign.gov.uk so they get notice of any safety information or product recalls.

ENDS