With the Christmas rush approaching the Office of Fair Trading has been checking over 100 popular sites and have found a considerable amount of traders to be breaching the Consumer Protection Law. Findings indicate that some sites are setting out unreasonable restrictions on customers rights to refund with nearly all those in breach of the law asking that the product is returned in its original packaging.
Online shoppers have a right, and indeed a need, to inspect goods on arrival but by retailers asking for goods to be sent back in their original packaging and condition this makes it almost impossible to get their money back. Some sites were also found to be adding charges on top of the product price without prior warning.
The OFT recognises that most businesses want and are indeed fair to their customers but have instructed those who are breaking the Consumer Protection Laws to make amendments to their sites before Christmas. Those who do not do this risk formal enforcement. All online retailers must be in compliance with Distance Selling Regulations. Websites must give clear instructions and information including a 7-day cancellation and refund period and protection from card payment fraud.