Brits are falling victim to sneaky online sales tactics – such as pressure selling, subscription traps and fake reviews – as the cost-of-living crisis makes them more desperate to find the best deals.
A poll of 3,700 adults found 67 per cent feel the cost-of-living crisis make shoppers more desperate to find a deal.
And 33 per cent admit to rushing a purchase to snag the best bargains only to realise it wasn’t the best deal, with this rising to 48 per cent of those aged 18-34.
And although 71 per cent of all shoppers believe they are “saving money”, 23 per cent don’t realise tactics such as “5 mins left of sale” or “only two remaining” are sneaky sales tricks often put in place to encourage people to buy quickly.
A quarter have bought an item after being pressured by banners such as “two items left”, while 24 per cent realised they have bought a product based on fake online reviews.
As a result, 56 per cent of young shoppers have spent money they couldn’t afford because they’ve fallen victim to these tactics, compared to 33 per cent of overall respondents.
Consumer champion and TV presenter Angellica Bell is working with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as it launches the next phase of “The Online Rip-Off Tip-Off” campaign to help shoppers call out misleading online tactics.
She said: “We know the cost-of-living crisis is putting a strain on shoppers across the UK and online business are using sneaky sales tactics to make us part with our money when household budgets are already stretched.
“We all feel the pressure of securing bargains, making us more susceptible to being ripped off.
“It’s frustrating when this happens and it’s time we call out these online retailers and report them to the CMA.”
The study also found 45 per cent have found themselves trapped in a subscription without realising and later found it difficult to cancel up to five times.
But while 68 per cent think these types of tactics should be banned, just 26 per cent have gone as far as actually reporting it.
Those who haven’t ever reported these tactics put it down to not believing anything could be done about it (46 per cent) and not knowing this was even an option (42 per cent).
However, it also emerged many are keeping the sneaky online sales tactics to themselves, with 14 per cent admitting they would be too embarrassed to tell anyone they’d been ripped off.
The study, carried out via OnePoll, found 58 per cent think online retailers should be punished for using such strategies to get people to buy.
George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the Competition and Markets Authority, which commissioned the research added: “Our findings show shoppers are now pushed to make unplanned purchases as they hunt for the best bargains as the pressure from the cost-of-living mounts.
“We know that every penny counts, and it is increasingly concerning as some businesses which sell online take advantage of the current economic crisis.
“That’s why we are issuing compliance advice directly to online retailers so they comply with the law when presenting urgency claims and price reduction claims to consumers.”