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UK Online retailers told to change websites before Christmas

 8:14 am on Oct 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

More than a third of the UK's top online retailers could be breaking consumer laws, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has said.

A check of 156 popular websites suggested that 62 may not be fully complying with consumer protection law.

The OFT found unreasonable restrictions on refunds and compulsory charges being added without prior warning at the online checkout.

It has asked the retailers to change their websites before Christmas.

Among the most common problems found by the OFT were retailers wrongly telling their customers that returned goods must be in their original packaging or in their original condition.

The OFT explained that this could be in breach of the buyer's right to inspect or assess a product.

Nearly two-thirds of all the retailers checked failed to provide an email contact address, as opposed to a web contact, which is a breach of the E-Commerce regulations.

Of the 60% of sites that notified buyers there would be compulsory charges, such as delivery, in addition to the up-front price, 24% of those then added extra, unexpected, charges as well.




 7:12 pm on Oct 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

The distant selling regulations in the EU have been in effect for years. I wonder where those companies have spent the last decade.


 8:23 pm on Oct 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

It sounds like try-before-you-buy regulations.

Apparently in the UK, I can order a widget, throw away the packaging, try it for a few weeks, and if I don't like it for any reason (including spite), return it, and get fully-refunded (including the original shipping cost).

I'd order two of every color of shirt and pants, wear each for a day, then after a few weeks, dump them in a box and send them all back. I'd never have to buy new clothes again!

With these regulations in place, it's no wonder that a widget sold in the UK is triple the price of the same widget sold in the USA.


 9:57 am on Oct 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

^ Who told you this? ? ?


 9:59 am on Oct 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Actually when we buy things online in the UK they often say that a condition of return is that the item is returned unused and in original, undamaged packaging. With modern packaging methods it is virtually impossible to do this. Hopefully this will take care of situations like this.


 3:26 pm on Oct 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Who told you this

Two sources: Our own research of items in our genre, and our UK customers.

We are even competitive with items we import from the UK. Nothing more ironic than an order from a UK customer for a UK-made product.

Hopefully this will take care of situations like this

The packaging situation you quote is understandable. But not everything arrives in blister packaging, and the UK law appears to allow the customer to toss *every* original box, carton, and molded foam without penalty.

As a UK shopper, I'd love this law. Buy whatever widget you want, toss the box in the trash, play with the widget for a few weeks, then wrap it in bubble wrap, and send it back for a full refund. And get my original shipping refunded too... wow.

As a US eTailer, we thank the Parliament for passing pro-US laws like this one.


 8:23 pm on Oct 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe people over there are more honest. Which would be refreshing.


 8:31 pm on Oct 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

play with the widget for a few weeks


You have 7 days to get it back to them; so at most 3 or 4 days to play.


 7:47 am on Oct 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

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