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which? webtrader closing

closure of uk best practice scheme

     
2:07 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hi

We have received advanced notice today of the closure of the which web trader scheme at the end of january.

from their advanced notice:

"I am writing to give you advanced notice of an announcement that we will be
making on the afternoon of Monday January 6."
"I will be announcing that the Which? Web Trader scheme will be closing at
the end of January."
"During the three and a half years of the scheme we have received more than
8,000 applications, accepted 2,700 online traders and resolved more than
2,000 disputes on behalf of consumers. The scheme has succeeded in its aim
of increasing consumer confidence online and has promoted higher standards
in e-commerce."
"However, providing such an effective and well-monitored scheme costs a
significant amount each year and as a charity and campaigning organisation
we need to use our resources in the most efficient way possible."

This is an important scheme in the UK and has improved ecom consumer confidence & trust over the years.

Does anyone know of possible UK alternatives/replacements? our sites will seem a little naked without this trustmark!

2:14 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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gibbon,

excellent find, and thank you for sharing it.

To be honest I have my opinions on the code, and this is neither the time or place to share them.

the end user is now wise enough to know that Badges/Awards etc etc are bought, and not rewarded.

The best badge you can have is YOU, look after the customers and they will spread the word.

Even the "Thawte" security certificate logo does not carry that much weight anymore.

Shak

2:26 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think you'll find that the Which? webtrader badge isn't awarded too easily- I certainly has nothing to do with money. The requirements are actually very strict and they really do take your site apart when you apply. Its a bit of a shame that its closing.
2:27 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Shak do agree with you in principle.

"trust" is gained by reputation, not external sources.

the different thing about the which webtrader was that it was "free" to join as it was a charity so supposedly they acted in the consumers best interests not the paying merchant.

time will tell (through our conversion rates) whether it did make a difference.

[edited by: gibbon at 2:33 pm (utc) on Jan. 3, 2003]

2:31 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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edit g, hence the reason I said its best if we dont discuss that here.

but let me assure you.

Money Talks and Bull**** walks!

Shak

2:55 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Shak,

I don't understand your posts - do you know anything about the Which? Webtrader scheme?

It is free, and hard to obtain. Sites have to adhere to all UK and Europe Consumer law, and display terms and conditions to customers stating all their rights.

I was very proud to become a Which? webtrader and it will be sorely missed.

If you don't know your subject - don't comment!

2:59 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Sites have to adhere to all UK and Europe Consumer law, and display terms and conditions to customers stating all their rights.
============================================================

any webmaster with 1/2 a brain would be doing this without having an ugly image to promote the fact he is part of some little group.

this thread is going off topic, and I am probably the culprit, so apologies where due.

Shak

3:10 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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we have one site which get at least 2 orders a day directly from the which webtrader directory of members. not a great deal but never the less it all helps out I for one will miss them.

DaveN

3:14 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Shak,

direct me then to a (non Which? webtrader) UK site that contains the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 -

Did you know that if you order anything on line you can cancel it, without reason, from the time you make your purchase until the expiry of a period of 7 working days starting from the day after you receive your goods. A refund will be made within 30 days of cancellation.

Pretty useful stuff to a consumer - I have to post it on my site - because I'm a Which? webtrader.

I've used this little known bit of UK/Euro law myself to return a computer bought online - by the way, they weren't a Which? webtrader - so I had to advise them, of the law.

3:18 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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DaveN,

I get the odd order through Which?, but the main value is the trust it generates.

To be booted off the Which? scheme by mistreatment of a customer would be dreadful. And this is (was?) its real value.

Now it seems, we're *all* going to be booted off the Which? scheme - it is a crying shame.

3:19 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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As WebManager has mentioned, they will be missed as they provide free legal advice for webmasters & consumers.

Our legal fees will increase for sure as a result of this.

3:20 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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i know exactly what you're saying shak and i agree 100% with you. i never registered my sites or any of my client sites with them despite them being compliant with the law and with all which webtrader requirements.
3:22 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>I have to post it (distance selling regulations) on my
>>site - because I'm a Which? webtrader.

wrong - you have to post the distance selling regulations on your site because it's a legal requirement to display a returns and refunds policy that complies with UK and EU law.

[edited by: Crazy_Fool at 3:23 pm (utc) on Jan. 3, 2003]

3:23 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Failed to get on the scheme Crazy_Fool?

And by the way - it's a legal requirement that I don't ride my push bike after a couple of pints in the local - but I do. You sanctimonious...fellow.

3:45 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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no webmanager, i didn't apply - i didn't want or need a big orange blemish on my sites

1.7 million businesses in the uk, maybe 10% of them trading online, yet only 2700 websites with the big orange blob? surely that doesn't imply that *only* 2700 sites are compliant with uk and eu law and that 167,000+ businesses in the uk are trading illegally?

gsx

4:15 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'm glad they are closing. Currently, if there is a Which Web Trader logo on the site, I go elsewhere.

They do not solve disputes. I was charged carriage and VAT, delivery date promised was missed (by a fortnight may I add) and when products were faulty they were not accepted back.

Which Web Trader were a great help. They did nothing. This one particular company flouted over half of the standards and yet were still listed in the Which Web Trader directory.

Awards are only as good as the day they are issued.

4:17 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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And did you complain to Trust UK? The organisation that over sees the Which? webtrader scheme?
4:22 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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And Crazy_fool,

you have a poor understanding of the law!

It is not necessarily unlawful to *not* advise cutomers of their rights - merely desirable.

The Which? scheme's code of practice goes beyond the letter of the law and makes requirements regarding display of information that it would be legally permissible to avoid.

Sign up and you might be better informed!

4:52 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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What we should be asking is what will take the place of the Which? scheme (if anything).

I don't have an online store myself, but there should be at least a proper code of practice, so that stores that do sign up have a 'code of honour' to follow.

4:59 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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sem4u,

I totally agree. No scheme is ever perfect, but at least the Which? scheme was free and couldn't simply be bought.

5:06 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have been waiting ages to hear from them about becoming a member.

I spent ages writing, then rewriting terms of service to fit in with what the wanted.

This was the last mail I got from them:

Thank you for applying to the Which? Web Trader scheme.
This e-mail is to inform you that we are currently experiencing a severe backlog in our review process. This has affected the progress of all applications to our scheme and we are doing everything to resolve this situation. As soon as any further developments can be confirmed regarding your application, I will be in touch again straight away, however due to this backlog I am currently unable to give you any timescales of when this
might be.

Charming ;)

Back up with the old T.O.S then :)

5:10 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>you have a poor understanding of the law!
>>It is not necessarily unlawful to *not* advise cutomers
>>of their rights - merely desirable.

webmanager, you've never actually read the distance selling regulations or the ecommerce directive, have you?

consumers have the right to cancellation within a cooling off period. you have an obligation in law to provide prior information including their rights to cancel and their entitlement to refunds (hence returns and refunds policy).

it seems the orange blob scheme didn't help you at all.

>>what will take the place of the Which? scheme (if anything)

sem4u - anyone can set up their own "good practise" scheme so expect to see a couple of these pop up within the next few months. be careful which you sign up to though, as they'll most likely be something like "stick an orange blob on your site to send your visitors to us so they can sign up to our products or services".

5:16 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Which Web Trader Code Of Practice

[whichwebtrader.which.net...]

It is quite a dull read :)

5:19 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Crazy Fool is right. It's against the law not to provide said information on the Distance Selling Act and their rights.
6:35 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>It is not necessarily unlawful to *not* advise customers
>>of their rights - merely desirable.

What's wrong with this general statement Crazy_Fool? Where did I mention the Distance Selling Regulations here?

The point was perfectly clear - consumers have rights, but it is not necessarily unlawful to *not* advise them of their rights. In fact most statutary rights are simply assumed when a contract is entered into.
<snip>

[edited by: NFFC at 6:53 pm (utc) on Jan. 3, 2003]
[edit reason] TOS #19 [/edit]

6:42 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Why not have an Ombudsman scheme like in the (UK) banking sector where complaints can be heard and acted upon when other avenues of complaint have been exhausted?
7:16 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>(webmanager) it is not necessarily unlawful to *not* advise them of their rights

you are obliged by law to advise consumers of their rights.

how many more times do i need to say it? go check the law if you don't believe me.

[dti.gov.uk...]
[dti.gov.uk...]

[edited by: NFFC at 9:25 pm (utc) on Jan. 3, 2003]

7:24 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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sem4u - if you have a complaint against a web trader and it cannot be resolved with the web trader and if you feel they are ignoring your rights as a consumer or failing to abide by legal obligations under the distance selling regulations or ecommerce directive, the correct course of action is to discuss the matter with your local trading standards office who will advise you of your legal rights for your specific case and whether the web trader is in breach of the law and what you should do about it (ie, write to the company or employ a solicitor etc). if this fails to resolve the issues, you then take them to court. if trading standards receive a number of complaints about a particular trader, they can and will take action themselves.
8:27 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Crazy_Fool, you are completely right in your insistance that "you are obliged by law to advise consumers of their rights. "

However I do think we may underappreciate the help that the which scheme offered to small traders.

For instance, knowing the ins and outs of the distance selling directive is a barrier to entry for a smaller web trader.

Applying to become a which webtrader at least assured that you were complying with the latest regulations - and best of all it was for free.

Whilst the savvy webmaster may know the law, at the same time the smaller, mom & pop trader may be innocently breaking the law.

In my opinion for both webtraders & consumers the scheme provided that little extra safety net.

We see figures in the UK that ecommerce is a greater proportion of retail sales than in the US. Whilst I would not contend that the which scheme is the sole reason for this. I do think that the existence of a nationally understood "trustmark" has been a good help.

As a couple of members have mentioned, I too hope something emerges to replace it.

9:22 pm on Jan 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We see figures in the UK that ecommerce is a greater proportion of retail sales than in the US. Whilst I would not contend that the which scheme is the sole reason for this. I do think that the existence of a nationally understood "trustmark" has been a good help.

On the contrary - after establishing the 'Which? Web Trader' scheme in order to try and overcome some reluctance in the UK to use credit cards for on-line purchases, what did they do? They set the cause back a few years by displaying their clients credit card details on their Which? website.

BBC news (polite version) here [news.bbc.co.uk...]

Jokes about it were made for days in every newspaper, pub and workplace in the country.

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