There has been a continued year-on-year surge in online shopping complaints, according to Queensland Fair Trading Minister Peter Lawlor.

He said online shopping has opened a new avenue for consumers, particularly in recent times with it becoming an attractive shopping option to the strong Australian dollar.

"Online purchases made up 5.5 per cent of the total complaints in 2004/2005, compared to 15 per cent in 2009/2010," he said.

"A 10 per cent increase in a five year period is substantial, albeit understandable given a trend towards online shopping,

"The increase in complaints about online shopping has come at the expense of traditional in store sales with 34 per cent of complaints in 2004/2005, dropping to 18 per cent in 2009/2010.”

Lawlor noted that if consumers were diligent and knew what to look for, pitfalls can be avoided.

"When purchasing items from overseas sites, consumers need to remember that  if something goes wrong it may be hard to enforce your rights and get your money back," he said.

"Sometimes goods online appear to be cheap when compared to goods in traditional stores, but when you add the cost of delivery, the price may not be as attractive.

"But the trick is – make sure you do your research and ask about all of the conditions and terms of sale, including the refund policy of the on-line provider."