Online shopping pitfalls go beyond bad buys

You can buy just about anything you want online.

No longer is it just the realm of household goods, clothes, and electronics – you can order and pay for your groceries to be delivered, from the comfort of your pajamas.

There’s even a company that will ship envelopes full of glitter, to cause a shiny mess on the floor of its receiver.

But, as with all good things, there is a dark side to the world of online shopping.

We heard last month that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is going to take web-based concert ticket reseller Viagogo to court, amid allegations the Swiss company was selling valid tickets at significant mark-ups. And worse, that it was selling fake or invalid tickets at inflated prices.

While it’s good news that there will be a crackdown on this company, it’s also too late for some people.

Many have reported spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on buying concert tickets, only to be turned away at the gate with invalid tickets.

It’s true, you can buy anything on the web, even things that aren’t real.

The further you look at this dark side, the darker it gets.

This week, it was revealed a Launceston woman tried to sell her same-sex marriage postal survey vote on a Facebook group, for $300.

The post was only up for only a few minutes, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics was quick to point out that attempts to sell a vote could attract a fine of up to $2100.

Again this week, The Examiner reported that a litter of nine puppies had been stolen from an animal sanctuary in the state’s South.

The puppies were found listed on Gumtree, selling for $50 apiece. Thankfully, they’ve all been returned to the sanctuary.

But how often do you see dogs, cats, or other animals listed for sale online, on sites like Gumtree, or in Facebook groups?

We know that impulse buying a pet can lead to that pet being mistreated, or ending up abandoned.

Victoria in 2016 introduced legislation that any advertisement to sell a cat or a dog must include the microchip identification number in the advert. Maybe it is time Tasmania adopted a similar policy for its domestic animal sales.

As a country, it is time to tackle the tangled web that is online buying and selling.