What to Look out for When Buying from Online or Overseas Retailers
The affordability and wide selection of household products available online is very attractive to those in search of a bargain. Many new homeowners arrange bulk purchases or rely on home renovation contractors to source for appliances and furniture, most of which are bought overseas.
However, homeowners need to be aware that safety regulations can vary greatly from country to country. You may not be adequately protected should you decide to buy from an overseas retailer. Always ask if a product meets local safety requirements.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when buying home appliances and electronics online:
||General household items such as electrical, electronic and gas appliances under Consumer Protection (Safety Requirements) Regulations need to carry the SAFETY Mark before they can be sold in Singapore.
Photos from online marketplaces may show limited product angles so when in doubt, always ask the seller if the product has been tested for safety and bears a SAFETY Mark.
||If the product description, pictures or videos do not clearly explain its features and functionality, never hesitate to contact the seller for more details.
||A quick search online can often help reveal products that have been recalled by the manufacturer or had its sale stopped by regulatory bodies over safety issues. In addition to price, check out past buyers’ feedback, seller ratings and independent product reviews to thoroughly make sure no safety hazards or reliability issues exist.
||Look for a seller that provides full product warranty by the manufacturer, customer service support and a return or exchange policy.
||When buying electrical appliances online, technical specifications printed on the packaging may not be shown on the product page. Always contact the seller to ensure that it comes with plugs and voltages that are suitable for use locally.
In support of the Organisation for Economic Coorperation and Development’s Global Awareness Campaign on online safety, the CPSO encourages consumers to #PutProductSafetyFirst when buying products online. Here are additional tips to consider when making purchases online:
- Know who you’re buying from - check out the seller’s history, ratings and policies.
- Is it prohibited/banned from sale? If it is, don’t buy it.
- Has it been recalled?
- Are there mandatory safety features it needs to have?
- Is there safety information on the listing?
- Ask the seller if you’re unsure - if they can’t reassure you, don’t buy it.
- Report products you think are unsafe.
- Does it have the features you were told it would have?
- Does it have safety warnings or instructions?
- Stop and read any safety warnings or instructions.
- If you think it’s unsafe, report it to authorities, the seller and the online marketplace.
- Register your product to be notified of recalls or other product issues.
- Always follow advice about recalled products.
You can find more information on the OECD’s work consumer product safety here.