New figures from Citizens Advice reveal the charity’s national consumer service is contacted by worried shoppers every nine seconds, totalling an average of over 3,400 a day. 

The service typically sees a spike in calls each January as shoppers seek help after problems with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and festive purchases.

The number of complaints received by the charity in January 2023 grew 28 per cent compared with the month before. 

Catherine Bennett, community engagement manager at CANH, said: "Every day we hear of shoppers running into difficulties with their purchases.

"As we focus on counting the pennies, unscrupulous sellers turn to using high pressure tactics or misleading promises to make a sale.

"Coming away with less than we bargained for can happen to anyone, even the savviest shoppers. 

"It’s important we recognise the red flags and have the confidence to know what to do if things go wrong." 

To mark the annual Consumer Awareness Campaign (Monday, October 16 - Sunday, October 22) run by Citizens Advice in collaboration with the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP), which includes Trading Standards and the Department for Business and Trade, CANH is sharing its top tips to empower shoppers with the knowledge to shop confidently.  

Does it seem too good to be true? 

If it seems too good to be true — it probably is. This is especially true for products which are ‘must-haves’ or are sold out in major retailers. 

Be wary of sites offering big discounts. Ensure that you’re buying from the retailer’s official website so that you know it’s a genuine product. You can find out if a company is registered by searching their details on

Sole traders (someone who runs their own business) and partnerships (where two or more people run a business together) don’t need to register with, so you’ll need to do further research on their site to make sure they’re a genuine seller

Check you’re buying from a trustworthy retailer 

Do some background research into the company. Make sure you find their return and refund policies so you can understand your rights if something goes wrong with your purchase.

Find out how they can be contacted, where in the world they’re based and whether they’re part of a consumer protection scheme. 

Seeing what others say about the retailer can help you find out if it’s a legitimate seller or not. But remember to look into reviews on other websites too, not just their official website. 

How do they want you to pay? 

Be cautious when a seller asks you to pay by an unusual means such as in iTunes vouchers, crypto currency or via bank transfer.

These are harder to track and lack the vital protections that you get when paying by debit or credit card or by a third party app such as PayPal.  

If something you ordered hasn't arrived 

If you’ve bought something from a business to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you.

If the seller used a courier, they should chase the courier to find out what’s happened to your order - it’s not your responsibility. 

Check the delivery address you gave the seller. Then contact them and ask where your order is. If the seller claims they've delivered it or don't know where it is, you can ask for a redelivery. You might be able to get a refund in some circumstances. 

For information and advice, contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.