Shopping on the Internet

How do you know if you can trust an online retailer? What can you do against subscription traps when surfing with your smartphone? And what should you look out for in "free" offers?
Kreditkarte am Laptop

How do you know if you can trust an online trader?

  • Prices shouldn't be far below the usual level.
  • The total price should be stated.
  • There must be clear references to GTCs, data protection provisions and the right of withdrawal.
  • The imprint and contact details must be available.
  • Search for external reviews of the trader.
  • If in doubt, always try to pay by invoice (if the only payment options offered are prepayment, direct bank transfer and cash on delivery, it's more difficult to get the money back later). There must be a clear indication for the purchase (e.g. order with payment, buy).


What can you do to protect yourself from subscription traps when surfing with your smartphone?

  • Set up a block: Set up a third-party block with the mobile phone company to protect yourself against unknown subscription operators.
  • Find the subscription operator – contact the contact listed on the invoice (by phone or email).
  • Stop the subscription: Deactivate the unwanted subscription in writing with the billing company (or directly with the subscription operator).
  • Claim back the amount: Reject the invoice with the subscription operator and claim the amount back. If the recovery from the subscription operator doesn't work, complain to the mobile phone provider about the bill and claim the amount back.

*(Subscription traps are cost traps on the Internet that occur, for example, when you accidentally tap on something)


What should you look out for in "free" offers?

  • The promised profits usually distract from the costs.
  • Read the small print (T&Cs) and scroll down the website to the bottom. That is where possible costs are hidden.
  • Use personal data sparingly.
  • When contract conditions talk about contract periods or termination, this is usually associated with costs.
  • The imprint must include the name and address (not just a PO box). A foreign address can make complaints more difficult.
  • Look for a that's wrongly checked. Sometimes only asterisks (*) are used and the note and price are hidden at the bottom of the page.

Are you unsure? Get independent and neutral advice! Find out more from the consumer advice centre

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