The OFT has written to 62 of the top online retailers ahead of the busy Christmas period after a sweep of 156 websites found signs that many may not be fully complying with consumer protection law.
The sweep looked for potential breaches of the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) and other consumer protection laws and is part of the OFT’s ongoing work to ensure that consumers can shop confidently online.
Key areas of concern include:
- 33 % of sites that provided information on cancellation appeared to impose unreasonable restrictions on customers’ rights to a refund. Most common was requiring that the product must be in the original packaging or in the original condition, which can infringe on consumers’ rights to reasonably inspect/ assess the product.
- 60 % provided a web contact form rather than an email contact address, as required by the E-Commerce Regulations. 2 % provided no electronic contact details at all.
- While 60 % of sites indicated upfront that compulsory charges would be added to the first price shown, 24 %of these sites went on to add further unexpected charges at the check-out.
Traders that do not make amendments to comply with the law risk formal enforcement action from the OFT or Local Trading Standards Services.
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