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Consumers unsure about cross-EU online shopping

Concern over resolving problems putting shoppers off

online shopping

UK consumers are put off shopping on EU websites – even if they’re cheaper – due to fear of potential problems and returning goods if something goes wrong.

The new research found that when people do buy from online retailers based in another EU country, 63% do so because items are not available in the UK.

The survey – carried out by ANEC which is a European consumer organisation funded by the EU – also found that people inadvertently bought from websites without realising where they were based. 

Find out more about your rights when buying goods from another EU country

Is it a UK website or not?

The survey – of 1,058 UK adults including Which? members – found that more than half of people found it difficult to tell if a website was based abroad, sometimes only realising this after they had made a purchase.

This is unsurprising given that many sites are in English and market products to a UK audience while recording prices in British pounds sterling.

The research also found that seven in 10 people said they were more likely to use a website with a trust-mark label or logo.

But with more than 50 different trust-mark labels and logos in use throughout Europe and many countries not using them, they are not always a sound way of judging whether a website is trustworthy.

Problems experienced

The survey revealed that 67% of people said that online reviews influence their online shopping behaviour. But concern over problems arising when shopping cross border within the EU is a barrier to buying.  

Of those people who said they never buy online across EU borders, 76% said that it was because they would be worried about resolving problems or returning goods if something went wrong.  

The types of problems people have experienced when buying from an online retailer based in another EU country include late delivery, faulty goods and items not being as they were described on the website.

Find out more about how to return an item bought from another EU country.

No fear of complaining

The majority of people who did experience a problem did complain, with more than half complaining directly to the retailer.

The reasons given for those who didn’t complain after experiencing a problem included not being able to find contact details for the website and the process seeming too complicated or difficult.

Believing that a complaint wouldn’t be successful was another big concern among UK consumers. 

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