Last year, it was common for Czechs to buy Christmas gifts online, and the same will be confirmed during the post-Christmas sales. E-shops offering discounts and bargains. However, they are not always worthwhile. Do you know how to avoid being fooled and what to look for?
The popularity of online shopping is growing, and many shops have their e-commerce sites alongside their brick-and-mortar stores. Many Czechs take advantage of the traditional post-Christmas discounts and conveniently buy various types of goods from home.
Unfortunately, it is still possible to come across dishonest online retailers, fake discounts, and deceptive tricks.
Check the credibility of the e-shop
First and foremost, it is therefore highly advisable to check whether your chosen e-shop is safe. This is especially worthwhile if you have never dealt with the shop before. Ensure the full terms and conditions, contact details, and information relating to the consumer’s right of withdrawal are published on the website.
You can’t go wrong by reading other people’s reviews. “If you have any doubts about an e-shop, it is always better to look up the experience of other customers or check whether the shop in question is on the list of risky traders, which can be found on the Czech Trade Inspection website,” recommended Irena Jandíková from Max banka. Fortunately, dissatisfied customers are rarely silent, and the bad reputation of an online shop speaks for itself.
Don’t underestimate cyber security, either, after all. You are entrusting the online retailer with sensitive personal and payment data. The website’s level of protection is indicated by the lock on the left of the line where you enter the internet address. If the lock icon is marked with a warning triangle or crossed out, never enter sensitive information on such a site, such as bank, credit card, or personal identification information.
Some e-shops try to put pressure on shoppers by using slogans such as “only two items left,” “15 people are looking at this item right now,” or “5 people just bought this item,”. Their strategy is clear. They want to convince a hesitant customer to buy the goods they are looking at.
The recommendations of European Consumer Center suggest that both the reduced and regular prices should be displayed during promotional periods. The ‘pre-promotion’ price shown by European shops must be the lowest price charged in the last 30 days. It is, therefore, advisable to monitor the prices of selected products over a more extended period. If the undiscounted price is not the lowest in the last month, it may be an unfair commercial practice.
Are you shopping in a foreign e-shop?
Beware of online stores based outside the European Union. You must pay customs duty if the amount exceeds €150 (including shipping and insurance). If you buy tobacco, alcohol, or perfume, you must always pay customs duty.
It would be best if you also looked out for VAT, which is affected by the value of the goods and any registration of the foreign e-shop in a system called IOSS. Furthermore, you will not be subject to the return and complaint policies you are accustomed to from Czech or European e-commerce. So it would be best to think twice about buying from Asia or America first, so your gifts do not become more expensive.
When paying by card at foreign e-shops, the payment gateway will offer you the option to choose the currency of the transaction; always choose to pay in the case of the merchant, never in Czech crowns, which, although it may not seem like it at first glance, is disadvantageous for you. This is a dynamic currency conversion or DCC for short.
According to data from the German consumer organization Stiftung Warentest, you will pay, on average, 14 percent more for DCC transactions than if you pay in local currency. Fortunately, you can block DCC directly with your bank for free and protect your card from DCC.
Have you sent a payment to another account?
You may also mistake the wrong account number when entering your payment order. If you send money to a non-existent account, it will automatically be returned to your account within a few days.
However, if you enter an existing account, you will need to ask your bank to help you recover the money, and they will contact the recipient’s bank to ask for a refund. They are responsible for returning the money, but if they refuse, you must contact the police.
Returning the goods
Under the law, you can return goods bought in Czech e-shops within 14 days without giving a reason. Some e-commerce sites allow customers to return undamaged goods for much longer.
However, this does not apply to certain types of goods. Specifically, goods modified at the buyer’s request, perishable goods (food), or goods where the hygienic packaging has been damaged (e.g., cosmetics).
Due to copyright protection, unwrapped CDs, DVDs, or software cannot be returned. You will also be out of luck if you buy as a legal person. The option to return goods within 14 days does not apply to them either.