Watchdog warns over ‘sneaky’ sales ploys to part drunken online shoppers from their money

Research from CMA finds many Brits enjoy a tipple while they browse 

Credit: Nenad Stojkovic/CC BY 2.0    Image has been cropped

The UK’s consumer rights regulator has warned the public that doing online shopping while under the influence of alcohol leaves them susceptible to “sneaky” sales ploys used by retailers.

According to the Competition and Markets Authority, these “misleading online tactics” can include hidden charges and fees, bogus claims about the availability or popularity of a product, and the use of fake reviews. Other tricks include “misleading customers into signing up to, and paying for, an unwanted subscription that can be difficult to cancel”.

A study commissioned by the watchdog found that half of those who shop online in the late evening have done so while enjoying an alcoholic drink. Four in five have shopped on the web while watching television, while 70% have listened to music at the same time. 

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The CMA noted that even a third of “digitally native Gen Z” respondents – who, with an average of £290 a month, spend more on late-night online purchases than any other group – admitted to “being susceptible to online rip-offs”.

The regulator has launched a new campaign – dubbed the Online Rip-off Tip-off – to help raise awareness of potential scams or misleading sales practices used by e-tailers.

George Lusty, CMA senior director for consumer protection, said: “As the cost of living continues to rise, every penny we spend must count. We’re increasingly concerned about online businesses using sales tactics to push people into parting with their cash. And the time of day or mindset you’re in when shopping can make you more vulnerable to being unwittingly misled.”

The regulator’s consumer awareness campaign is being fronted by TV presenter Angellica Bell.


Sam Trendall

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