Top retailers in the UK are in danger of “contravening” legal requirements relating to their customers according to the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Research (PDF available here) on 156 e-commerce sites (both pure-play Internet and brick-and-mortar retailers) revealed that nearly half were not in full compliance with consumer protection laws and could face legal action if adjustments were not made. For instance, according to the OFT report, one of the key issues was that merchants were adding fees to the initial price shown. While 60 percent of sites indicated upfront that extra charges would have to be met prior to purchase, 24 percent of these platforms then also required that unexpected costs be paid.
Some other interesting highlights from the report include:
- 33 percent of platforms providing information about cancellations imposed “unreasonable restrictions” on customers right to a refund (the objective being that it was common for retailers to require products be returned in their original packaging or condition, which can “infringe on consumers’ right to reasonably inspect/assess the product”)
- 60 percent of digital retailers only provided a web contact form, not through an email address (as demanded by UK law); 2 percent made no electronic contact details available.
There was some good news however, 99 percent of companies provided information about when goods would be delivered, and 95 percent provided a postal address when payment for products was needed in advance.