Complaints from UK consumers about problems with cross-border online shopping purchases have shot up by almost 63% since the UK first went into lockdown in March, according to figures released by consumer advice body UK European Consumer Centre during National Consumer Week.

Problems cover everything from orders that don’t arrive, refunds that aren’t processed, online purchases that turn out to be fake or counterfeit, and products that don’t work as they should. This year’s National Consumer Week (from 16 November to 22 November) concentrated on clueing the public up on their online shopping rights and what to do if something goes wrong with a delivery. The week was run by the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) which brings together consumer bodies from all parts of the UK covering all aspects of consumer protection. The UK ECC is a CPP member.

Andy Allen, UK ECC service director, said: “More people appear to be shopping online than ever before – a shift which has been heightened during the Coronavirus pandemic. “Huge numbers of people are using the internet to buy things. In 2019, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data indicated that 8 in 10 internet users had shopped online. In February 2020, ONS figures showed that 19% of retail spending was online. This rose to 33% of retail spending in May 2020, during lockdown.

“Being able to buy things online has a lot of benefits for people - it can be more accessible, make it easier to shop around, and help consumers to save time and money. “But we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of problems consumers are experiencing with their cross-border online purchases. This means that it’s more vital than ever that consumers know their rights when shopping online, how to be a #SafeShopper and what to do if things go wrong.”