Despite what so many critics might have us believe, it’s actually pretty difficult these days to find an online fashion retail shop that isn’t 100% above board. It’s getting harder and harder for dodgy dealers to get by, if only for the fact that they are being totally drowned out by brands of truly exquisite quality. Nevertheless, there will always be one or two proverbial bad apples in the bunch, which is why it’s a good idea to keep your wits about you when shopping online and not to take things for granted.

The good news however is that avoiding any remaining dodgy dealers is easy…and VERY easy at that. When it comes to online fashion retail in particular, there are certain red flag warning signs which are not only wholly indicative of a brand you don’t want to deal with, but are also a piece of cake to spot.

That is, of course, if you know what to be on the lookout for – here’s a look at a few quick pointers to help you out:

1 – Questionable Language

First of all, one of the most common tactics adopted by dodgy dealers overseas is to establish an online retail store that looks British and has a domain name, but is in fact owned and operated from the other side of the world. In such instances the risks are obvious – not only are you being lied to from the word ‘go’, but you’re also being tricked into buying potentially dodgy wares manufactured somewhere far away by parties unknown. A dead giveaway of this is of course poor English – something those involved in these kinds of shenanigans find it impossible to avoid. It might have all the most important signs of being a British business, but if the language isn’t up to scratch, chances are it’s quite to the contrary.

2 – Impossibly Low Prices

Something else to keep your eyes peeled for is any evidence of prices that are far too low to be realistic. No matter what it is you happen to be buying, there will be something of a market average for it. This of course applies even more prominently to designed goods and high-end clothing, which never have been and never will be given away cheap. As such, when and where you find yourself looking at what appears to be a too-good-to-be-true bargain, more often than not it’s exactly that – as in untrue.

3 – Long or Vague Shipping Times

Another of the most painfully obvious signs that you’re dealing with a foreign seller pretending to be based in Britain is overly long or disconcertingly vague estimated shipping times. When you take a look at the specifics of any brand’s shipping estimates, there’s never any reason for a UK company with stocks on hand here in the UK to quote shipping times of more than a few days at the very most. As such, when you’re told things will be with you in anything from five to 25 working days, you can usually interpret this as a sign things are coming in from foreign shores. There are exceptions of course – custom-made clothing and rarities for example – but if there’s no obvious reason as to why things might take so long, you could be looking at a bum deal.

4 – Unclear or Complex Returns Policies

Above everything else across the board, there is nothing whatsoever, that’s of more importance than making sure a good returns policy is in place. The very nature of online clothing retail is such that vast swathes of customers are going to find that things don’t fit quite as well as they’d hoped, which in turn means that colossal quantities of clothing must be swapped and returned every day. And when this is the case, it should never come down to the buyer to foot the bill. Most sellers will of course accept returns, but some make it so complex or expensive to send items back you probably won’t bother to do so…and they know this. Unless the returns policy is 100% comprehensive and incredibly simple, it’s a risk that’s not worth taking.

5 – No Visible Feedback

Last but not least, online clothing retailers are inherently reliant on the feedback they receive from customers to reassure and advise new customers and prospects. As such, when and where there’s no feedback to be found or the feedback you do find appears in any way dodgy, this should tell you all there is to know about the brand you do NOT want to be doing business with.