One in Three Online Retailers Break Consumer Protection Laws

Article excerpt

Online retailers are being warned to ensure their websites are up to scratch after a survey discovered nearly a third of retail websites are breaking laws designed to protect shoppers.

The research, carried out by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), analysed over 500 UK shopping websites to check compliance with consumer protection laws.

It found that 31 per cent of sites appeared not to refund the full cost of returned goods, an integral part of European laws on distance selling.

It also found that 40 per cent of sites did not provide clear information on pricing, failing to tell customers that compulsory additional charges would be added to an item at the checkout stage of a purchase.

Sally Jones, a specialist in commercial law at Hammonds in Birmingham, said: "When customers shop online they are protected by Distance Selling Regulations and ECommerce Regulations which place very real obligations upon online retailers.

"As the e-commerce sector grows ever more rapidly it seems that website providers are losing touch with these obligations, or becoming careless, which is leading to the kind of worrying breaches that the OFT research has identified. …