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Online shoppers are getting ripped off

Says global consumers group

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Online shoppers are still being ripped off according to the latest survey from Consumers International.

The global federation of more than 260 consumer organisations in 120 countries found that eshoppers still can't shop with confidence with too many etailers failing to deliver the goods, as it were.

In its second report Should I Buy? Shopping online 2001: An international comparative study of electronic commerce researchers placed 412 orders around the world for DVDs, clothes, computer accessories, food and drink, and hotel rooms.

The researchers found that six per cent of goods failed to arrive at all and in some cases punters were billed for items that never turned up. Almost one in ten etailers failed to refund items when they were returned.

Consumers International also found that some etailers failed to comply with current legislation. For example, one in five etailers failed to give a clear total cost of the transaction.

And less than half the EU-based sites gave information to customers about their right to withdraw from a contract - known as a "cooling-off period" - that is required under European law.

"Said Anna Fielder, a director at Consumers International: "Although there have been some improvements since 1999, business still has a long way to go both in reliable fulfilment of orders and in improving the information given on the site.

"Although the Internet offers advantages to consumers in terms of convenience and choice, a world where many goods fail to arrive and traders don't send refunds does not inspire confidence in consumers to shop online."

Consumers International now wants Governments to tighten up the law on online sales and "name and shame" those etailers which repeatedly fail to comply with the legislation. ®

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