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What's New? > Consumer watchdog fires warning shot at online sellers

Consumer watchdog fires warning shot at online sellers

Published: 7th November 2012

As the Christmas shopping period approaches, online retailers are given a timely warning to put their websites and procedures in order.

As the retail sector hots up for the Christmas selling season, a warning shot has been fired at online sellers, telling them to match up to consumer protection regulations  or face action.

A report by the UK's consumer watchdog, the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) has highlighted areas where online retailers need to get their act together in the run up to Christmas.

Earlier this year the OFT carried out checks on the websites of 156 major online retailers, to see whether they were complying with consumer protection regulations.
The OFT has now published the results of that survey, which has resulted in written notices to 62 of the retailers, pointing out where they are falling short.

The most common examples of non-compliance are:

• Imposing limitations on customers' rights to a refund if they cancel the order

• Unreasonable limitations on customers' right to inspect and assess the goods and to return them if defective

• Failing to provide full contact details including an e mail contact address

• Unexpected charges imposed at the time of checking out -  what's known as drip selling 

Said consumer law expert Sally Dean of  Ward Gethin Archer solicitors: "This report by the OFT is hitting retailers in the run-up to the frantic Christmas shopping period, and sets out a tough reminder to put their house in order as quickly as possible.

"It's not just about the major retailers who have been identified, as any online seller who doesn’t match up is going to be in line for penalties in future, and non compliance is bad for business because it damages reputation as well as leading to tough penalties."

She added: "Every business selling online needs to examine their online trading terms and procedures to make sure they do not fall foul of the rules."

If you require further information on the above issue or any other commercial matter, please contact a member of our Company Commercial team on 01553 660033.

This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek our specific advice.