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Criminal? Half of Electronic Sites Break EU Laws

Posted on 9.08.2009

The BBC reported on a recent European Union investigation that highlighted more than half of websites selling electronics break European laws. The EU investigated 369 websites in 28 countries in May due to high levels of complaints on those websites by consumers as well as being large e-commerce websites.

The biggest offender among e-commerce merchants was the lack of explanation to consumers on their rights to refunds. Consumer laws in the European Union allow consumers to return product within seven days with full refund, and two years for repair or replacement.

The next biggest offenders among e-commerce merchants were explaining delivery charges and providing merchant contact information. If the merchants don’t correct these errors they face fines and possible prosecution.

In the U.S. the Federal Trade Commission regulates deceptive practices and consumer protection. E-commerce merchants should be aware and understand Section 5 of the Trade Act to guarantee they are meeting guidelines and not infringing on consumers. “We have a lot of information on consumer and business best practices. And any merchant – offline or online – should follow good practices,” says Betsy Lordan, Office of Public Affairs with the FTC.

The FTC has not done a full-scale investigation like the one by the EU however, it does provide investigation into deceptive practices if need be.

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