This month (Oct 2012) the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has said that more than a third of the UK’s top online retailers could be breaking consumer laws!
The OFT looked at 156 top ecommerce sites and found that 62 may not be fully complying with consumer protection law. This included unreasonable restrictions on refunds and compulsory charges being added without prior warning during the checkout process.
As many smaller online retailers use larger sites to set the example for their own online sales policies many more ecommerce sites could also be breaching UK consumer protection law.
Ecommerce UK Consumer Rights
Below is a brief summary of some key consumer rights, if you are an online retailer making sure your sales policy is in line with these will help keep you the right side of the law in the run up to Christmas.
- Goods must be delivered within 30 days, unless agreed otherwise
- Customers can cancel an order within seven working days (longer for financial products) and must be given a full refund
- When refunding the refund should include any delivery charges
- Customers do not have to return the goods in their original packaging
- The customer is responsible for the safe return of items
- As the retailer you will have to pay for return postage if the items are going back because they are faulty or not as ordered
Other Mistakes to Watch Out For
As well as the above if you are trading online you must provide an email contact address, as opposed to a web contact, otherwise you are breaching E-Commerce regulations.
In addition all charges should be clearly displayed upfront and not hidden at the checkout.
Online retailers who don’t comply with the law could be taken to court and face fines, so don’t taking your compliance fore granted.
So why have some retailers been less than compliant when it comes to consumer law. In the instance of hidden charges this could be a genuine concern that customers may be put off by these costs.
Whatever the reasons ultimately the consumer law is there to make sure customers get a fair deal and are full informed, because that is what they want. There are better ways to promote your products and encourage sales while keeping your website compliant.
Cornish WebServices are experts in internet marketing with a proven track record of real results. We focus on giving clients a genuine return on their investment and for retailers that means reaching more customers and generating more sales.
To find out more visit http://www.cornishwebservices.co.uk/