Brits Fear Shopping Online this Christmas

Dennis Faas's picture

Online retailers in Britain could be missing out on more than $5 billion worth of business because customers are concerned about security. The report's authors found that one in five people questioned do not shop online because they believe rogue web traders will not deliver goods, or are trying to commit fraud.

The survey was carried out by, a site funded by the British government, Microsoft, eBay and the HSBC bank.'s managing director Tony Neate said, "Being aware of the warning signs, and taking a few simple precautions, is all that's needed to shop with confidence."

Mr Neate, who spent ten years investigating computer-related fraud for the police, pointed out that security in the 'real world' can be even more lax. He pointed to diners in restaurants who give their credit cards to waiters who then disappear into the kitchen where the card is out of sight.

The site gives tips for safer online shopping, including:

  • Only buy from companies which provide a physical address and contact telephone numbers.
  • Only use a secure site when buying online: these will have pages beginning https:// rather than http.
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, try searching for the company name in a search engine to see if customers have reported any problems.
  • Be wary whenever a firm that you don't know sends an offer in an unsolicited email.


It's not just shoppers who face problems this Christmas. A firm that provides customer relation management software to several major retail chains says companies are unprepared to deal with the increase in complaints and queries accompanying the online shopping boom. Ironically the problem is made worse by shoppers becoming more confident about online goods being delivered quickly. Because they are leaving it later and later to buy gifts online, there is much less time for sellers to resolve any problems. (Source:

It seems both buyers and sellers need reminding that even though technology makes things simpler, the rules of common sense and careful planning still apply in cyberspace.

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