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23 Nov 2017
ACM warns: Watch out for impulse buying on social media

Impulse shoppers beware: the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is warning consumers not to make any unplanned purchases on social media. The watchdog organisation has started a campaign with the slogan “Don’t be tempted to buy on impulse on social media. First check who is selling.” [‘Bestel niet zomaar iets via social media. Check eerst wie er achter zit.’]

According to the ACM, commercial parties are increasingly targeting young people on social media. Research shows that young consumers, in particular, are easily tempted to indulge in impulse buying from companies they don’t know. They sometimes spend dozens or hundreds of euros on these purchases. This has prompted the ACM to call on young people to seek more information about the seller before buying anything from them.

No matter how irresistible the product may look in the ad, it’s better to be safe than sorry. In order to avoid any problems after your purchase, it is important to check who the seller is and whether they can be contacted before you buy anything, says the ACM.

Social commerce: e-commerce on social media
The Dutch are buying more and more via social media platforms, particularly on Facebook and Instagram. Many special offers reach consumers through targeted advertisements on social media. They can buy the product in just a few clicks, without an intermediary like a web store. All this may be very simple and quick, but it can also cause problems. The advertisements are difficult to find at a later stage, making it relatively easy for the seller to remain anonymous.

Risks list
The ACM lists a number of risks associated with such impulse purchases: what do you do if you receive a different product than the one you ordered and you can’t reach the selling company? What if the product is delivered late or not at all? And what if you thought you had ordered a free product and receive an invoice afterwards? Or if you don’t get your money back even when you have returned your purchase within the cooling-off period?

What can you do as a consumer?
If you have already paid or provided your details by filling out an order form, there’s little you can do to stop the process. Therefore, make sure to:

  1. Before you buy, check who the seller is and whether they can be trusted;
  2. Check their contact details and keep them;
  3. Check if the seller can be reached by telephone number and email;
  4. Pay afterwards, or use insured payments

ACM has published a checklist on its  Consuwijzer consumer information desk, offerint tips to check whether you are dealing with a trustworthy company.

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