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Half of all UK Web sites could be in breach of new consumer laws, according to a survey by the Office of Fair Trade (OFT).

It conducted a sweep of 637 UK sites selling goods and services and found that more than half failed to give easily accessible information concerning refund or exchange policies.

While most of the sites examined did provide basic business contact details and details of costs, many fell short in providing information on both refund and exchange policies, and how they would handle customers' personal details.

Under Distance Selling Regulations which came into force last October, e-tailers must provide clear information before placing orders.

The new regulation also offers a cooling-off period, during which an order can be cancelled for any reason and a full refund received. And punters are also entitled to a full refund if goods/services are not provided by an agreed date.

John Vickers, DG of the OFT, said: "The results of the Internet sweep conducted by the OFT and the
trading standard service are of concern.

"Failure to tell consumers about their right to cancel and to a full refund is a breach of the new Distance Selling Regulations and something which must be put right.

"It is in the interests of consumers and good businesses to make ways of buying from home as robust as possible," he said. ®

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