The Office of Fair Trading (OFT), has published a report about the legal compliance of 152 top ecommerce websites in the UK. The report, compiled by BDRC Continental, reveals that as many of half of the websites might not be adhereing to basic consumer rules such as the Distance Selling Regulations. The OFT has written to 62 companies expressing their concerns.
Key findings from the research include:
33% of websites investigated appeared to include “unreasonable restrictions” on a buyer’s right to a refund. The most common concern was that the returns policy demanded that the returned product be in the original packaging or in original condition. The OFT is concerned that this requirement can infringe on a conumer’s right to reasonably inspect their purchase.
60% of the websites provided only a web contact form and not an email address, as required by the Ecommerce Regulations. Astonishingly, 2% had no means of online contact at all.
24% of the ecommerce websites examined were considered to add unexpected charges during the checkout process.
Cavendish Elithorn of the OFT 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. Businesses can find more information on our online Distance Selling Hub.”