Self-help tips on how to shop on the high street and online safely.

On the high street

  • choose only quality toys from shops you know
  • ensure toys are safe - look for the European CE symbol and the Lion Mark of the British Toy and Hobby Association
  • these symbols should mean the toy conforms with all relevant safety advice
  • check for sharp edges or loose parts
  • make sure the toy is right for the child's age.  Young children can choke on toys with small parts, on marbles, even balloons
  • you have a legal right to return goods for exchange or refund for certain reasons: if they are not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or not as described when purchased from a trader
  • don't be tempted to buy cheap merchandise as it may be counterfeit

Shopping online

Shopping online can be a great way to beat the queues.  Remember, you have additional consumer rights if you shop via the internet:

  • a '14 day cooling off' period during which an order can be cancelled without any reason and a full refund made (there are some exceptions to this right e.g. perishable goods (flowers, fresh food), CD's, DVD's if you have broken any seals)
  • a full refund if goods or services are not provided by an agreed date or within 30 days of placing an order if no date was agreed
  • the seller of the goods must provide you with their name and, if payment is required in advance, their address too
  • if you've purchased something on a credit card that's over £100, the credit card company can reimburse you if the company disappears.  It may be wise to have a separate credit card for internet purchases with a low credit limit, e.g. £200
  • check the website is secure. Look for symbols such as the closed padlock which can be found to the right hand side of the progress bar at the bottom of the web page.  The internet address should also change from http to https when entering a secure area
  • never send credit card details by e-mail.  This is not secure
  • get a personal recommendation before buying from a company you know nothing about
  • make sure you know where the company is based and what their telephone number is.  A '' address is not necessarily based in the United Kingdom
  • remember, buying from abroad may present problems in the event of a dispute.  It is also worth checking if the goods are subject to a duty
  • check the company's 'terms & conditions' and in particular check for a company's policy on returning goods, delivery times and addresses, details on how to complain, and the company's privacy policy - a good company will ask you if you want your information passed on
  • make sure you know the total price before buying.  Look out for additional costs such as postage, packaging, VAT or credit card charges and check your statements to ensure that you were not overcharged and that there are no irregularities
  • beware of unsolicited mail and offers that seem too good to be true

Should things go wrong and you want further advice, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline.