In a statement released today the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) believes that more than a third of the UK’s largest online retailers are not compliant with the latest consumer rights laws.
On checking more than 150 of the UK’s most popular e-commerce websites, findings were that over 50 were not complying with various important consumer protection laws.
Most of these contraventions were surrounding returns, with many demanding restrictive policies that infringed customers rights. Other areas that were also a problem were found in excess charges that were added with no prior warning before the checkout procedure.
The OFT seems to have given those that are not compliant up to Christmas to update their systems before it takes a more serious action.
The report has found that many popular online clothing retailers in the UK wrongly suggest that returns would only be accepted if they were in original packaging and in their original condition, a contradiction to legislation contained in the sale of goods and services act.
The OFT’s report seems to suggest that nearly two thirds of retailers failed to provide an email address, as opposed to a standard enquiry form, a clear violation of E-commerce and distance selling regulations here in the UK.
A number of websites were also guilty of failing to notify the buyer that there would be compulsory charges before checkout. Prices often used in marketing materials were not shown to include these additional charges, with unsuspecting buyers being hit with confusing pricing structures. The worst of these were seen in card charges, booking, handling and luggage fees for a number of airlines.
In a brief statement, the OFT stated;
“We encourage all online retailers to check their websites so customers can be confident their rights are being respected when they shop online.”
The OFT has now notified a number of the larger online retailers of their findings, urging them to make the necessary changes. They have noted that fines will be issued to those who fail to comply within a reasonable time.
If you suspect that your website is not compliant with the OFT guidelines, you can seek help by watching their Buying online – know your consumer rights video. or by contacting us here at DiD, where we will be more than happy to talk you through the legislation and how we could make your website compliant by making a few small updates.
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