With several online stores offering holiday sales, going on a shopping spree is tempting. But like the common saying, one should be cautious to avoid mistakes.
The EcoWaste Coalition reminds consumers to prioritize safety and avoid buying items that could threaten human health.
To that end, the toxics watchdog group has released practical tips to help shoppers access product safety information on e-commerce sites.
These tips were created to assist online businesses and consumers in adhering to the government-issued “Guidelines in E-Commerce Transactions” and to reinforce the advisory published by the Department of Trade and Industry, which identifies what the DTI calls the “12 SCAMonsters of Christmas.”
During the Christmas season, online shoppers are advised to follow these tips for a safer experience:
- Gather information before purchasing (ask a friend, read customer feedback, ignore fake reviews, and check the Internet for public health warnings, product recall orders, and related advisories).
- Be assertive in asking for essential information from the manufacturer, distributor, or seller to help you make an informed choice.
- Read the product listing with caution, as it could contain exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims.
- Scrutinize the product label and watch out for signs of adulteration or imitation, including poor quality image, logo disparity, and other labeling inconsistencies.
- Take note of common red flags for products that are not authentic or lack market authorization: incomplete product information, labeling in foreign characters without translation, low-quality images, grammatical and spelling mistakes, wild claims, unresponsive sellers, etc.
- Beware of products and services taking advantage of celebrity endorsements without proper authorization.
- Think thrice before purchasing products sold for extremely low prices that are too good to be true, such as high-end MAC lipsticks sold for less than P50, which may contain lead and other contaminants.
- Refrain from buying uncertified items such as electrical and electronic products, including common household appliances covered by DTI’s mandatory product certification schemes. Non-compliant products may cause electric shock, start a fire, or even cause toxic exposure.
- Know the refund and return policies of online shopping platforms and/or dealers in case of problems with what you have purchased.
- Avoid buying toys and other childcare articles, personal care and cosmetic products, medicines and medical devices, and other regulated products not notified or registered with the FDA. These products may pose serious health risks to consumers.
- Be cautious about toys that pose health and safety hazards, such as those with small parts, button batteries, small magnets, long cords, and sharp edges, and those laden with lead and other hazardous chemicals, including toxic plasticizers called phthalates.
- Select duly authorized and labeled toys and other children’s products that are truthfully marked as Bisphenol A or BPA-free, cadmium-free, lead-free, mercury-free, and phthalate-free.
- Shun products that use the logo of the Philippine or US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) without authorization in the product packaging, marketing, and promotion.