Ball season: Buyer Beware. What to do when online shopping goes wrong
Imagine ordering something online and receiving a thing that only barely resembles a beautiful website picture or the size is wrong. What if you tried to return it, but no one answered your calls or emails? What if you were sure you were buying from a Kiwi company, but the seller was overseas and New Zealand laws didn’t apply to them?
Last year’s story about Dreamy Dress is a cautionary tale about all the above. It’s ball season again, so it’s good to remind ourselves about safer online shopping practices.
In the Dreamy Dress case, a student bought a tailored dress for more than $200 online, assuming she was buying it from a New Zealand company. Her parcel, however, came from overseas, with a dress that resembled the catalog picture but was the wrong size. The company refused to refund the purchase and went non-responsive.
Since then, the Dreamy Dress .nz domain name and associated website are no longer accessible online. The Domain Name Commission has taken it down because the registration details for the .nz webshop domain were invalid.
This year to date, the Commission has suspended or canceled 362 .nz domain names for incorrect registration details. Some of these domain names include cautionary tales of offers being too good to be true.
Our guide to a safer online-shopping lists the most common red flags with online stores. Our learning tool Fake webshop is a dummy e-store that has most of the ‘fake’ features. Check it out to be more prepared to shop safely online.
At the Domain Name Commission, we receive plenty of reports of overseas vendors licensing .nz domain names. Overseas registrations are allowed in .nz domain name space, and in the majority of cases, these vendors are contactable and consumers can easily obtain goods, services and refunds. If a consumer paid using their credit card they may be able to dispute the transaction with their bank.
Some online shops, however, might be fake or used for phishing, scams or malware. Where this is the case, we work closely with law enforcement agencies and the Commerce Commission to make .nz a safe and trusted online space. We have an agreement with CERT NZ who deals with infrastructure abuse like phishing and malware associated with .nz domains.
Members of the public can report any concerns with their .nz domains to [email protected] or to online security organisations such as CERT NZ who are equally committed to preserving the integrity of the Internet and .nz domain name space.
New Zealand authorities enforce New Zealand laws and are limited in what they can do in the global space. If something goes wrong with a person’s order, it can be more of a problem to put it right. Buying and shopping local may make more sense.