Shoppers thinking of buying a refurbished smartphone online in the run up to Christmas have been warned to do so with caution.

Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the European Consumer Centre says figures it has compiled show significant problems with delivery, faults or other issues with the product.

The ECC here says over half of the complaints it received about smartphone purchases from traders based elsewhere in the EU/EEA over a year long period related to delivery problems.

It said a further third of complaints about phones related to the goods either arriving faulty or becoming faulty soon after purchase.

Other complaints involved phones not picking up any Irish mobile network, the IMEI reported lost or stolen, or postage/delivery restrictions on goods using lithium-ion batteries, the ECC said.

When it came to resolving the problems, in over half of the complaints the trader either refused to respond in the first instance or stopped responding after a complaint was lodged.

The ECC said that in a number of cases, consumers who placed their orders through online platforms did not even know the seller's identity.

The centre says anyone considering buying a second-hand phone in these circumstances should do their research, pay securely before purchasing, and buy from reputable sellers.

ECC Ireland is therefore urging consumers to buy from reputable sellers and to check reviews before purchase.