Officials urge residents to exercise caution when shopping online

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Stop, think and connect, is the message officials from the Prices and Consumer Affairs Division is sending to the general public ahead of World Consumer Rights Day being observed today.
World Consumer Rights Day, being celebrated under the theme: Building a Digital World Consumers can Trust’,  provides an opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers, demanding that those rights  are respected and protected.
To mark the occasion, the local department has partnered with Silicon Dadli  to promote Internet safety and highlight the dos and don’ts when conducting business online.
General secretary for the company Ashton Fearon advised members of the public to first interact with a reputable company when choosing to shop online.
He said one can do this by reading reviews of other users to build a level of trust on both sides and ensure that they carefully input personal information.
“Once you have done all your homework then you are free to connect with confidence and make that purhase. Once you get to these websites you are going to be handing over personal information, [like] your credit card number, and you want to make sure that you are doing so with a reputable company,” Fearon said.
Residents were also advised to ship through a third party source (frieght forwarders) as it would be easier to seek redress rather than making attempts to settle matters on their own.
Press Information Officer/Laison Officer within the Prices and Consumer Affairs Division Cemone Williams said it is easier for her department to handle troubleshooting problems when a third party source is used to get items to Antigua.
“If the items are processed through a shipping agent and something is wrong with it, we can step in and investigate what is happening, but once the middle man is not used and you ship it directly we have no jurisdiction over those sort of transaction,” Williams said.
The week of activities marking the observance of World Consumer Rights Day commenced on Sunday with a church service at the St Johns’ Lutheran Church and a media day yesterday.
Today, the department will colloborate with Silicon Dadli to host a Tech Fair and Tech Talk outside the Prices & Consumer Rights office on Redcliffe Street beginning at 9:30 am.
The activities will culminate on Wednesday with an awareness march through the streets of the capital.

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