Online retailers have been warned by The Office of Fair Trading to make sure their on-line stores are in compliance with the consumer protection laws. The measures should be taken, in order to prevent problems during the Christmas holidays.
The most popular websites for on-line sales have been checked by the OFT and it turned out that 62 e-shops out of 156 might not be compliant.
The main reasons why some of the websites fail include adding extra charges at the end of the checkout process, as well as not clear refunds policy, especially including unreasonable restrictions.
The owners of the incompliant investigated websites have been warned to make the necessary changes in order to provide easier, smoother and clearer shopping process through the website, before the Christmas season, when the sales increase significantly. The e-shops, which fail to comply will face “formal enforcement action” or in other words serious sanctions.
E-shops were also checked for their compliance with the Distance Selling Regulations. Most of the websites have a clear policy and comply with the regulations, however there was some controversy about one of the points included in the returns policy. Some of the websites tell the customers that refunds are given only if the product is in its original condition and packing, which is against the consumer`s rights to check and test their goods. Another common violation is the fact that there are no contact details or they are not clearly shown to the customer.
The senior director of the goods and consumer group of the OFT -Mr Cavendish Elithorn said: “The OFT recognises that most businesses want to play fair with their customers and to comply with the law. “We encourage all online retailers to check their websites so customers can be confident their rights are being respected when they shop online.”
According to the statistics, last Christmas Britain spent over £8 billion on buying Christmas presents online. There are some estimations that the e-shopping forms about a tenth of all the shopping in the UK.
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