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Watchdog calls online shops to heel

Online stores breach consumer disclosure laws

Websites selling consumer goods may be in breach of the law, according to a report published today by the Office of Fair Trading.

Under UK law sites must provide full and clear information about goods on sale, including information about cancellation of orders and refund rights.

Of the 637 sites visited in a random search by the OFT, 52 percent failed to comply with these laws.

“Failure to tell consumers about their right to cancel and to a full refund is a breach of the new Distance Selling Regulations,” said John Vickers, director-general of OFT.

The European Commission’s Distance Selling Regulations came in to force last October and clearly list the rights of consumers and responsibilities of distant sellers.

“We will be contacting all offending sites,” said a spokesperson at OFT.

But not all sites are guilty of such breaches.

Online store Amazon provides clear guidance on returning goods on its home page.

“It saves everyone time to have clear information,” said an Amazon spokesperson.

“Less items are returned if people know what they are before they buy them and people know how to return them and where they stand.”

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