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Sometimes when shopping on eBay we may not mind where our product is coming from, but other times we want to buy something local. Reasons vary:
- We want to get it fast.
- We want to support local business.
- We want to buy an ethical product.
- We want to ensure the product has passed necessary safety checks.
- We want to be legally protected.
So we look for a product saying “ships from our country” and buy. But is all as it seems? Turns out, “seller-uk-2015” is probably from… China. They may have a UK or EU warehouse, or the product may be shipping all the way from Hong Kong, but the seller is not based where they claim to be. Let’s use this product as an example:
Item location: London, UK
Seller location: China
Scroll down to nearly the it’s bottom of the product page and you’ll see the company details:
Business seller information
Company registration number:FUYE LIU
VAT number:GB 199742250
So that is who your money is going to and probably where your product is based. But the deception runs deeper than that. Let’s look at the company registration number: it’s missing. We only have the name FUYE LIU. And the only company registered to trade in the UK with that name: FUYE ENTERPRISES CO., LTD, is registered as dormant and not allowed to trade in the UK.
So where does that VAT number come from? It’s made up. Search for it and you find countless different products, from countless companies, using the same number.
Why does this matter? Well, for starters you’re getting tricked into buying a product and service which may not be as promised, but there is more.
The VAT number is false, meaning untaxed goods are making their way into the UK, harming local business and the economy.
The company is either trading illegally, or may not even exist, so there are no precautions taken with their products. That “car seat”? It’s a dangerous product which meets no safety standards and provides absolutely no protection to anyone, let alone the recommended child aged 9 months to 4 years. Look at that listing: 15 sold at the time this was written. At least 15 young children in the UK are travelling in one of these, their lives at risk. Can you then also trust that the product is “environmentally friendly and non-toxic”? This is a country with virtually no manufacturing standards, where they even make false rice from resins and where baby formulas contained toxic ingredients which have killed infants.
But because the company is not British, not trading legally, and may not even exist, should a child be harmed, nobody can be held liable. The buyer has no legal protection at all.
These car seats seem obvious, but people are already falling for them.
So before buying a product, assuming it meets all your country’s safety standards, check the company location and Google the VAT number at the base of the page. And when in doubt: don’t take a chance.