Online shopping from non-EU countries
More and more people are opting for online shopping. The type of products purchased online has also become more diverse, with people purchasing all kinds of items, including power tools, electrical and electronic items, toys, and childcare items. As these types of products have specific safety requirements, the MCCAA advises consumers to be cautious and only purchase products that comply with applicable European legislation. This is both for security reasons and to avoid border control issues where non-compliant products can be detained.
But one may wonder how to know if a product complies with safety rules?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. When purchasing a product within the EU, there is a presumption that in order for it to be offered for sale in the EU market, it must comply with applicable safety regulations. Nonetheless, consumers can choose to buy from a seller who operates outside the EU, in which case it is important that they take extra precautions.
Before purchasing a product, consumers should know who they are buying from and also make sure that they have all of the seller’s contact details. Consumers should also check the repair offered by the seller in the event that the purchased product is found to be defective or not in accordance with the sales contract, as well as how the repair will be provided. The more information consumers have about the manufacturer, importer or seller, the better off they will be if there is a problem with the purchase.
Consumers should also be aware of the reliability and reputation of sellers. An easy way to do this is to check the product reviews and seller reviews provided by previous online shoppers. These are generally a good indicator of the conditions of the purchase to be made. Online consumer ratings and reviews can also give an indication of possible issues that other consumers are experiencing. However, it should be borne in mind that not all of these reviews may be genuine, and whenever possible, independent and impartial reviews should be sought.
Before making a purchase, consumers should read any safety instructions, age restrictions, or other warnings available online to help them decide whether the product is suitable for its intended use. If unsure about safety aspects, consumers can research the product online or contact the seller for more information.
Consumers can also check if the product has been recalled in the past by consulting the EU Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Products, also known as Safety Gate, accessible through the following link: https: / / ec. europa.eu/safety-gate-alerts/screen/webReport. This database contains a list of recalled products in all European member states.
Before using the product, consumers should verify that the product they received is what they actually ordered by comparing its description at the point of purchase with the information on the product packaging, and that there is no visible damage. Consumers are also encouraged to accept all offers from manufacturers to register products, as this gives manufacturers the ability to communicate any recalls due to safety concerns or provide software updates.
Despite all the precautions taken, consumers may still be faced with problems related to product safety or their consumer rights. Consumers are encouraged to report such issues to the seller and the online platform, and also, where appropriate, to seek assistance from the MCCAA. Consumers are also encouraged to write a product and seller review to alert other potential consumers.
This information was provided by the Technical Regulations Division of the MCCAA.
Odette Vella, Director, Information and Research Directorate
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