A growing number of Finns are being lured into purchasing a counterfeit product online.
Consumers are contacting the card payment service provider Nets Oy on a weekly basis after buying a fake item online, thinking they are getting the real deal.
”Discounts available online are so hefty that some people are prepared to ignore the risks. Some, on the other hand, are just plain gullible,” explains Jari Karlahti for Nets Oy, adding that not everyone who falls victim to an online fraud contacts their credit card company. Some people are also perfectly aware that they are ordering a counterfeit product.
A large number of Finns contacted the Finnish branch of the European Consumer Centre in December after becoming suspicious of the adverts displayed on Facebook, marketing for example Canada Goose winter coats and Peak Performance clothes.
An authentic Canada Goose jacket comes with an 800-euro price tag but online sellers are selling them for around 200 euros. A commenter on a Finnish blog mentioned receiving a bad-quality fake coat with a piece of electric wire inserted into its hood to hold it in the right shape.
”Consumers think these online sellers are brand-name outlet stores while in reality they are not even located in Europe but in China. If the ordered product ever reaches the customer it turns out to be a fake,” explains Saija Kivimäki, lawyer at the European Consumer Centre.
Kivimäki says that it is increasingly difficult to recognise websites selling counterfeit products as the number of sites has surged, with some of them now looking very convincing.
”When an online shop has a Finnish name and carries a Finnish flag, some customers think it must be reliable,” says Kivimäki.
According to a survey carried out by the network of European Consumer Centres in December, the sale of fake products online is common across Europe, with about half of the 27 national consumer offices reporting problems with counterfeit items.
Petri Lounatmaa, head of the investigation unit at Finnish Customs, says that online shoppers should also bear the safety of the products in mind.
”Most people realise that if you order fake brake pads online you are risking your life but not many are aware of the risks involved in buying counterfeit clothing items even though they can contain allergenic or inflammable compounds,” Lounatmaa comments.
If an online purchase turns out to be a fake, a consumer should contact the seller first. This failing, the buyer should contact their credit card company and request a refund based on a faulty product. The product must be posted back to the seller anyway.
”The consumer can also contact the product manufacturer or importer for a certificate confirming that the product is a fake,” says Karlahti.
Toni Lehtinen – HS
Johanna Sjöholm – HS
Niina Woolley – HT
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