At EFSA we suggest that you should always be careful when buying from e-shops which you have not already bought from or don’t know.
Most e-shops available in South Africa are genuine and sell the products they offer at the price they advertise. However, there are exceptions and you need to take steps to make sure you don’t fall victim to an online scam.
This is our advice:
- Unrealistic offer. If the offer looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
- Make a query. If you come across a new e-shop which you are unsure of, you can always call the phone number (during office hours of course) or email with a query.
- Payment. Make sure the e-shop’s payment page offers Visa/Mastercard or EFT/other payment link to a recognised SA bank.
- Do your homework. Check CIPC, or do a Google search on the company. That sometimes comes up with useful information – for example if the company is bricks and mortar, or when the company was founded.
- Phone a friend. Use companies you or your friends and family have bought from previously.
- Buy from who you know. Use e-platforms that are well known. They usually vet the e-shops they carry.
If the e-shop does not meet all of the above criteria, think twice about making a purchase.
If you do have a problem with a product that you have bought online (for example, the delivery is late, the product isn’t what was advertised, etc) please first contact the seller. Particularly in the case of delayed delivery there may be problems which the seller is not aware of, and which can be easily solved.
If you do not get a satisfactory response to your complaint from the seller, or do not receive a response from the seller within a reasonable time, contact the Consumer Goods and Services Ombuds (CGSO) which will help you by contacting the seller on your behalf.
The Consumer Goods and Services Ombuds was set up under the Consumer Protection Act to deal with both online and offline retailers who do not trade correctly. They are therefore a legal body with legal powers. The Consumer Goods and Services Ombuds contact details are: https://www.cgso.org.za/cgso/.