Tips for buying safe products online

The number of people opting for online shopping is increasing. A large variety of products can be purchased online, including power tools, electrical and electronic items, toys, childcare articles and many more.

As these types of products have specific safety requirements, the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) urges local consumers to only purchase products intended for the European Market and hence comply with the applicable European legislations to avoid problems encountered at border control where products may be withheld.

Consumers are also advised to buy products from trustworthy online platforms, as rogue traders tend to ignore health and safety aspects and may also sell fake products. Furthermore, if an offer seems too good to be true, it usually is.

But one may ask, how should I know if a product is compliant with safety regulations?

This is a question that cannot be easily answered, especially if the product is bought from platforms outside the EU. Before purchasing such products, consumers should ask the supplier if the product is intended for sale within the EU market. Furthermore, if the product is not intended to be placed on the European market, it is an indication that it is not compliant and hence should not be purchased by consumers.

Another important indication that a product complies with EU safety legislations is the CE marking. Although not all types of products need to be CE marked, products such as electric and electronic products, power tools and toys must be CE marked. Other popular items bought over the internet, such as books and clothing, childcare articles, playground equipment, do not need a CE mark but should still comply with the General Product Safety legislation and applicable standards.

The CE mark is a sign that is affixed by the manufacturer and shows that the product meets all safety requirements. It can be considered as a passport for a product to be placed on the European single market. Since it does not indicate the provenance of the product, a CE marked product can be manufactured either within or outside the EU.

By affixing the CE Mark to a product, the manufacturer as­sumes full responsibility for its compliance with all safety re­quirements. Unfortunately, due to counterfeiting or the misuse of CE marking, there is never a 100 per cent guarantee that a product bearing the mark is safe.

The Market Surveillance Directorate at the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority invites online shoppers to contact the authority when in doubt about the safety of a product before concluding the sale to avoid unnecessary disappointments at border control where non-compliant products will be withheld by Customs. The authority may be contacted via email on [email protected], through the MCCAA Facebook page and on tel no. 2395 2000.


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