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BizReport : Law & Regulation : March 15, 2010

British online shoppers should be read their rights

Despite being the savviest Internet shoppers and the biggest spenders in Europe, many British shoppers are unaware of their legal rights when purchasing online, according to a new U.K. government survey.

by Helen Leggatt

The research, carried out by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as part of the British government's "Know Your Rights" campaign run by government-funded Consumer Direct, revealed that 60% of Brits are less likely to return goods purchased online, compared to items purchased directly in shops.

"There has been a huge revolution in how people buy goods. We are now Europe's biggest online shoppers, so it's important we all know that most online goods can be returned with no questions asked within seven days," said Consumer Minister, Kevin Brennan. "We want confident consumers who can assert their rights and get a good deal."

British consumers also showed ignorance surrounding their legal rights for both types of purchase when it comes to refunds. Many did not realize that online shoppers had the extra right of a seven-day cooling-off period (excluding perishable and personalized items), two-fifths wrongly assumed retailers had the right to refuse a refund without a receipt and 10% believed goods can't be returned once they have been taken out of a store.

Online retailers would do well to educate their customers about their online rights because, as Michele Shambrook, operations manager for Consumer Direct states, "people who are knowledgeable about their rights are more likely to get a fair deal, save money and resolve problems when things do go wrong".

Tags: consumer rights, europe, online shopping

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