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Online shops: Need-to-know trustmarks

Online shop trustmarks are a sign of good protection. But you can’t rely on them 100%. 

Jens E. recently purchased an expensive notebook, putting his trust in the Trusted Shops trustmark on the retailer’s internet site. Among other things, the trustmark advertises a money-back guarantee of up to €2,500. As such, he transferred the €1,400 for the notebook in complete confidence – then came a cropper. The notebook never arrived. So he contacted Trusted Shops straight away. But the operator didn’t want to take responsibility for his loss. 

When online shops abuse trustmarks

It was for good reason: The fake shop should not have placed the trustmark on its site in the first place as it didn’t have any commercial connection to Trusted Shops. This is because to receive the trustmark, an online shop needs to meet strict review criteria (and to some extent pay hefty fees). Among other things, factors such as timely delivery, secure payment methods, price transparency, service, and data protection are weighed up. Ultimately, the dubious vendor abused the popular trustmark and in doing so attracted many unknowing customers. The internet site has since disappeared and the police are investigating.

Check first, then buy

So you don’t fall into the same trap, it’s really easy to check whether a trustmark on an online shop is legit. All it takes is a single click. The vendor has only really been verified if, after clicking the trustmark, you land on the trustmark’s website or a certificate opens which you can click on to go to the trustmark’s website. You can also try a different approach: Start your shopping trip directly on the trustmark operator’s website, such as Click Shops, choose a category, and you’ll find a list of all the verified shops. Click the retailer’s name and you’ll be taken directly to the vendor’s site. Other trustmark providers also offer you the chance to verify retailers on their sites. Once the authenticity of the trustmark has been confirmed, you can be sure the vendor is legitimate.

Click on a trustmark and a page like this should appear.

Shopping trustmarks you need to know about

Trusted Shops: Among other things, the trustmark guarantees the vendor has a good credit rating. Just as important is the money-back guarantee. Customers of these shops can be sure that they’ll get their money back in the event of non-delivery or timely cancellation. Above all, Trusted Shops has a very user-friendly complaints management system and actively mediates between the shop and customer in the event of any problems. Website:

s@fer-shopping/TÜV Süd: The s@fer-shopping trustmark is the result of a collaboration between TÜV SÜD and DBV-Winterthur insurance. Retailers that carry this trustmark have been audited thoroughly by TÜV (Association for Technical Inspection) in all purchasing aspects. As part of this, as the only testing facility TÜV doesn’t just check the retailer online, but also visits the retailer in person. Website [link in German]:

EHI/Geprüfter Online-Shop: The EHI Retail Institute issues the European trustmark “Geprüfter Online-Shop” [Verified Online Shop] to online shops across Europe. Online shops awarded this trustmark have been thoroughly checked for their legitimacy, price transparency, and the user-friendliness of their systems. Once again, this trustmark attaches great importance to mediation in the event of problems. Website [link in German]:

The true benefits of shopping trustmarks

Some countries like Germany already offer a very high standard of consumer protection anyway, with the criteria investigated by the trustmark awarding bodies corresponding more or less with statutory regulations. However, the trustmarks offer practical guidance when shopping online as

  • the criteria listed on the trustmark providers’ websites are much easier to digest than complicated legal texts.
  • By displaying the trustmark, the verified retailers commit to meet the requirements demanded by the criteria at all times. This makes them an important signpost and a good guide for you as a consumer.

Here you’ll find out how you can pay for your online purchases conveniently and securely.


This post is also available in: German