By Anna | Edited by Steve N Updated 3 Mar 2015
Whether for Christmas, birthdays, Valentine's or anniversaries, perfume or aftershave is often an easy gift. Provided it's legit, Dior is Dior whether bought in Harrods, Asda or online - it's cost that counts.
20 cheap perfume tips, including.
Important! Make sure you shop safely
Whatever you're buying, including perfume, there are always two main risks: either it's a dodgy company, or it's a legit company that has financial problems and goes bust.
Follow these quick tips to help you minimise the risks.
Pay by credit card for goods over Ј100
Pay by credit card for something over Ј100 and Section 75 laws supercharge your consumer rights.
Unlike debit cards, cheques or cash, pay in full or part (even just Ј1) on a credit card and by law the lender's jointly liable with the retailer.
This means you have exactly the same rights with the card company as you do with the retailer. So if it goes bust you can simply take your complaints there instead and get money back if there's no delivery.
It's important you ALWAYS repay in full each month, so there's no interest cost. See the full Section 75 guide.
Protect purchases under Ј100 via chargeback
Section 75 doesn't apply to purchases under Ј100, but there's still an option which can help. It isn't a legal protection, just Visa and Mastercard's chargeback rules, but it's a good back-up.
Spend on a Visa, Mastercard or Amex credit card or any debit or charge card and, if the goods don't appear, you can try to ask your bank/card provider to reclaim the cash from the seller's bank, so long as you complain within 120 days of realising there’s a problem. See the Chargeback guide for full details.
Check the site's legit
Bogus websites are often set up to cash in on popular products like perfume, so be wary if it's an unfamiliar site. Most folk know to look for a security padlock on the bottom right of a website, but that doesn't mean the site's legit, just that payment's secure.
To find out who registered the site and when, search the Whois database. Reputable firms should also appear on the Companies House site, the UK Government's official companies register. Be very wary of businesses with just a PO Box or email address.
Study the site's worldwide web ranking on Alexa. Anything in the top 100,000 means it's reasonably big and a good, though not foolproof indication of legitimacy. Do a quick Google search for other shoppers' experiences.
It's also worth noting that if you're ordering items from overseas, you may have to pay extra tax so always check this first - find more info on the HMRC website .
Know your cancellation
Many people are surprised to learn you've MORE rights buying online (or by telephone/catalogue) due to the Consumer Contracts Regulations.
This gives a legal right to send most goods back within 14 days for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault. You'll usually need to pay for the return delivery. Read Consumer Rights for a full guide.
However, of course, this is balanced by the fact that order online and that automatically means a time gap between ordering and delivering - when the company has your money. So if it goes bust during that time, the consumer contracts rights don't help.
Understand there's sometimes no protection
Ultimately, there is always a risk that a company can go bust. If the above routes don't apply, then you have to make a decision about whether you're willing to take the risk of parting with your cash.
Don't be overly scared of this. Every day we all make transactions based on trust, and this is part of that, but do balance up the amount you're spending against the risk. Don't give large amounts of money to a company you're not sure of.
Crucially, ensure your security's up-to-date - free software can be downloaded in about five minutes. More info in the Free Antivirus Software guide.
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Top five smell-alike perfumes
Smell-alike perfumes are supermarket and store-bought own-brand perfumes that have similar smells to the big designer perfume brands - but different names, packaging and, most importantly, different prices.
These are not copies. Yet we’ve noted a remarkable similarity in the smell of the perfumes, as well as the bottles and boxes in some cases.
While many people sniff at these cheap perfumes, it’s important to note that much of the cost of the big-name versions goes on pricey marketing and advertising. After all, those flashy billboard adverts don’t pay for themselves.
Some people may be snobby about smell-alikes as gifts, so this could be more suitable if you’re buying perfume for yourself. Some of the smell-alike perfumes are also weaker than the posh smellies, so you may need to apply more often. Considering how much cheaper they are though, they're still generally worth it.
The 2014 MSE Smell-alike Test
At the end of November, we carried out our own (non-scientific!) blind smell test with 30 members of the MSE team taking part.
The results of individual comparisons are listed below, with the best-matched at the top. The score for each is the total percentage of testers who couldn't tell the difference or preferred the cheaper one.