#ConsumerAlert (CNW Group/Competition Bureau)

Did you know that you might not always be buying directly from the retailer whose website you’re browsing? More and more big-name retailers are incorporating online marketplaces into their sites where other vendors can sell their goods. This means that when you’re shopping on the website of a retailer, some of the products offered may be from independent sellers.

Buying from third-party sellers may be perfectly fine, but learning to identify them could help you avoid unpleasant surprises.

Recognize a third-party seller
Before committing to the deal that’s in your cart, take a few minutes to find out if you’re buying from a third-party seller. That way, you’ll know where to turn if you need help with any customer service issues.

To help you spot third-part vendors look for:

  • key words like “sold by,” “shipped by” or “fulfilled by” near product descriptions
  • sections of the retailers’ website that are labelled “marketplace” or that feature a list of “partners”

Avoid possible frustrations
It’s also important to make sure you’re buying from a trustworthy third-party seller. To protect yourself, remember the following:

  • If the online price for an item looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Credible vendors are more likely to have detailed return policies and contact information. Carefully review their marketplace profile.

Know who is responsible for customer service
If you buy from a third-party seller, order fulfillment and customer service may be their responsibility, and not the retailer’s.

For shipping issues:

  • Know that the third-party sellers may set their own prices for their items and for delivery.
  • Since the retailer might not be the one responsible for shipping the item, you may need to address all shipping-related matters directly with the third-party seller.

For customer satisfaction issues:

  • Know that the third-party seller may be responsible for all customer service issues, including returns.
  • Know that it might take more time to resolve issues with third-party sellers.
  • Some retailers might offer help, but only if you’ve already contacted the third-party seller. Read the fine print on their marketplace policies and check for words like “if,” “may,” or “subject to”– it could mean that there are limitations on resolving issues with third-party sellers.

Source: The Competition Bureau