Fake boots warning

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CRIMINALS are continuing to target fashionistas who want to take to the streets in Ugg boots by targeting shoppers online.

Trading Standards Officers in Cambridgeshire have seen an increase in complaints from residents who have bought fashion favourite ‘Ugg’ boots online, only to discover they were fakes.

This marks a familiar trend which saw over 30 complaints received by the service on the run up to Christmas last year.

Customers typically find the fake boots are very poor quality or fall apart after only a few uses and because these consumers are not dealing with law abiding businesses, many are having difficulty getting their money back, particularly when these businesses are based in China and other countries outside the European Union.

Price is not the definitive tell-tale sign – some customers are paying large amounts of money for these boots and still finding they are fake.

Cllr Mathew Shuter, Cabinet Member for Enterprise at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “Our Trading Standards Service works incredibly hard to support legitimate businesses and tackle rogue traders. They act on information which they receive – often from members of the public - to ensure those who try to sell counterfeit or dangerous goods are caught and, when necessary, dealt with by the courts. This often unseen and unheralded work, allows consumers in Cambridgeshire to buy with confidence and helps business who abide by the law to grow and succeed.”

Jason Williams from Trading Standards, said: “Fake Ugg boots are not the only product we receive complaints about. Last Christmas for instance we also saw an increase in complaints about fake designer hair straighteners, which, in addition to being poor quality, can actually pose a safety risk. In fact last year on the run up to Christmas, the Metropolitan Police shut down more than 1,800 websites selling fake or non-existent goods.

“We advise shoppers to use a new website, www.brand-i.org, to locate retailers who are selling genuine designer or branded products. The website allows customers to search for webstores selling a type of product, a specific brand (eg Nike, GHD or Ugg) or to check that a webstore is an authorised supplier of a particular brand. The website is supported by the Trading Standards Institute and the listings are approved by the brands themselves, so consumers can shop in confidence knowing that they are buying genuine products.”

Further tips for safe shopping online include making sure the website provides a UK postal address in case of problems, checking the business is really based in the UK by looking on www.nominet.co.uk for websites that end in ‘.co.uk’ or www.allwhois.com for websites that end in ‘.com’ and making sure the website address begins with ‘https’ and has the padlock symbol denoting it is a secure site. Just because the website address ends ‘co.uk’ does not mean the website it based in the UK.

Anyone who thinks they may have bought fake goods, and would like to report it or seek advice, should contact our advice partner, Consumer Direct, on 0845 4040506.