Shopping advice for young people

Know your rights

Did you know that you have the same rights as adults when buying goods and services?

Adviceguide has more information and advice on buying goods and services.

Advice leaflets on buying goods and services are also available from Trading Standards Institute.

Shopping at home

Have you ever bought goods or services using the telephone, fax, mail order, internet and then changed your mind? The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 give you a cooling-off period in which you can change your mind and cancel the order (some exceptions to this rule).

For goods

The cooling off period is seven working days for after the day on which the goods are received.

For services

The cooling off period is seven working days after the day on which you agreed to go ahead with the agreement. However, if the trader does not provide you with information about your right to cancel the cooling off period may be longer.

Internet shopping

Do you use the internet to buy CD’s , DVD's , and clothes? When you buy goods over the internet you have the same rights as when you buy in a shop but the trader must also give you some additional information. This includes clear information about the goods or services offered, confirmation after the purchase has been made and a cooling off period.

Internet auctions

Have you ever bought or sold anything on E-bay or other internet auction site? Internet auctions sites are increasingly popular and you can buy anything from toys, books, clothes, DVD’s, concert tickets and lots more. There are a few things to remember when buying from internet auctions:

  • Remember you are not buying from the auction but from whoever is selling the goods.
  • You need to check out the seller, are the trustworthy? Have they sold items before? Is there any feedback? Where are they based? Can I get my money back if there is a problem with the goods?
  • Before you place a bid check out what you are buying and compare prices. Make sure you do not end up paying more than what the product is generally sold for.
  • Check to see whether you will need to pay postage and how much it will cost?
  • How will you pay? Is your payment secure?
  • Do not trade with someone outside the internet site even if they seem genuine.

The Office of Fair Trading website has more advice on shopping on the internet and internet auctions.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones have become very popular over the last few years. If you are under 18, you cannot enter into contract for a mobile phone but you can buy a pay as you go mobile phone.

If you have a mobile phone you need to be careful about scams.

Text messages

One of the mobile phone scams is where you receive a text message saying you have won a cash prize. When you ring the number it is a premium rate number and the cost of the call can be very high. If you get any messages that you suspect might be a scam delete them immediately. If you have a complaint about premium rate numbers you can contact The Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS) who regulate companies who use premium rate lines.


Have you ever been tempted to subscribe to a text message service to receive a ringtone, wallpaper or news alerts? If you decide to subscribe to such a service you will be sent a number of premium rate text messages and you are charged for every text message you receive. It can cost you up to as much as £1.50 per message.

If you want to stop the expensive texts, all you need to do to unsubscribe is send the word “STOP” to the short code.

Lost your mobile?

The National Mobile Phone Register holds details of over 10 million phones. Register your phone. If your phone is lost or stolen, report it to your network operator as soon as possible. To find the right number for your network, call the Immobilise information line on 08701 123 123.

Credit, banking and debt advice


If you try to take out a loan or credit card and you are under 18 it will likely to be refused because a lender may not be able take a young person to court if you breach the contract. Usually if you are under 18 you cannot legally be held to a contract.

If you are over 18 and are thinking of taking out a credit card or loan think very carefully and ask yourself:

  • What do you need the money for?
  • Can you afford it?
  • How will you pay it back?
  • Can I afford the re-payments?
  • How long will it take to pay back?

If you decide that you can afford to pay it back then you should always shop around for the best Annual Percentage Rate (APR). Do not be persuaded to borrow more than you can afford. Remember you will be tied into an agreement and if you do get into difficulties do not ignore the letters or phone calls but get advice as soon as possible. There are a number of places you can get free, impartial and confidential advice. The Citizens Advice Bureau are able to help young people on a wide range of issues such as debt advice, employment and housing.


You can open a bank account at any age but it is up to the bank or building society if they allow under 18’s to open an account.

If you open a bank account be careful to avoid identity fraud. Do not tell anyone your pin number, do not let your card out of your sight, check your receipts and do not throw receipts away.

You might decide to do your banking on-line. You need to be aware of a scam called “Phishing” where you are sent a bogus e-mails asking for your bank account details and card number. Do not reply to the e-mail even if it looks as if it has come from your bank or building society.

Counterfeit goods

It is illegal to sell, copy or supply counterfeit goods. Every year Cheshire Trading Standards seizes thousands of illegal counterfeit goods.

What are counterfeit goods?

Counterfeit goods look like the real thing but are actually fakes. The most popular counterfeited goods are DVD’s , CD’s , clothes, computer goods, alcohol, watches, perfume, toys, car parts and cosmetics. New technology has made it easier for criminals to make copies and it can be very difficult for consumers to tell whether they are fake.

What is wrong with buying counterfeit goods?

You might think there is nothing wrong with buying counterfeit goods but there are a number of reasons why you should not buy them.

  • Fake goods may be cheap but they are often made of shoddy materials and are poor quality. You might buy a copied DVD that is not yet released in the shops but when you get it home it might not work properly or when you wash the fake sportswear it falls apart in the wash. Remember if you buy fake goods it is unlikely that you will be able to get a refund if things go wrong.
  • The goods may be unsafe or dangerous. Fake cosmetics have been known to cause nasty allergic reactions and fake car parts have been know to fail and cause accidents.
  • You could be giving money to criminals who use that money to fund other crimes. Some counterfeiters deal in drugs or are involved in other organised crime.
  • Often the goods are made abroad in poor countries where the workers are on very low wages.
  • Counterfeiters cause legitimate businesses to lose millions of pounds each year. This can result in people being made redundant.

What to look for?

If goods are much cheaper than elsewhere then be suspicious. Check the quality of the stitching on the labels, and check the logos and brands for any spelling mistakes. Look out for the same item in lots of different colours. Designer goods are unlikely to be mass produced in that way. Copied DVD's often have photocopied covers and will be current titles not yet released on DVD . Look for poor quality packaging.

Be extra careful when buying goods at car boot sales or markets because you might not be able to find the trader again if things go wrong.

If you know someone is selling counterfeit goods please contact us on 0845 113 2500.

Useful links for shopping advice

The Trading Standards Institute provides advice on wide range of consumer rights including buying goods and services.