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OFT strikes blow for e-consumers

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Amazon.co.uk has given a frosty reception to a ruling by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) which means that the online book shop will now have to refund delivery charges when people return goods.

Until now, punters returning goods have not been able to claim back the original charges made for postage and packing.

The OFT reckons this is a bit rum and believes that normal postage and packing delivery charges (but not the cost of returning the goods) of distance sales purchases must always be refunded - as well the original cost of the goods.

It's been holding discussions with Amazon.co.uk and BOL.com on the matter. And according to the OFT, the etailers have now agreed to include delivery charges in their refunds when goods are returned within the legal cooling-off period.

Said John Vickers, head of the OFT: "The Distance Selling Regulations give consumers the security to buy from home, confident that they can change their mind once they have received and seen their goods. Consumers are entitled to a refund of normal delivery charges when goods are returned."

But Amazon.co.uk is a tad peeved at the decision claiming it's based on the OFT's "interpretation" of Distance Selling Regulations. It seems Amazon.co.uk doesn't share the OFT's view.

"It is not settled law," said Amazon.co.uk in a statement.

It went on: "The OFT's [press] release implies we've been brought into line - we haven't - we will always act in the best interests of consumers (as we always do) and we will always work with government to drive clarity for customers and industry."

The OFT is currently negotiating with a number of other companies regarding the refunding of delivery charges. ®

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