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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : March 17, 2008

OFT web sweep analysis revealed

Over 500 UK-based retailers’ websites were examined for the Office of Fair Trading’s latest web sweep, as they sought to identify websites not upholding their regulations and continued to raise awareness among online retailers.

by Helen Leggatt

The OFT’s web sweep, carried out in December last year, showed that on the whole UK-based retailers are complying with key consumer protection requirements. Results (.pdf) also showed there was room for improvement - 14% of websites did not provide a physical address, 15% did not advise customers of their right to cancel within 7 working days of receipt of goods and 31% did not "comply with the requirement to refund the full cost of the goods”.

The area in which most improvement was needed was that of displaying additional compulsory charges, such as tax, upfront. Forty percent of websites surveyed in the OFT’s sweep omitted details of these charges in prices first presented to website users, only adding them at the checkout.

Ryanair recently came under OFT scrutiny for failing to declare compulsory charges on some of its airfares, as did 12 other airline websites.

'This exercise is a good example of the OFT and Trading Standards Services working together to raise awareness of online shoppers rights amongst businesses,” said Heather Clayton, OFT Senior Director, Markets and Projects. “We will be sending the report to the businesses reviewed. We encourage all online retailers to check their sites to ensure that they comply with regulations, so that shoppers can be confident that their rights are respected when they shop online.”

Tags: consumer protection, Office of Fair Trading, online shopping, U.K

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