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A new scheme designed to give shoppers confidence to buy online has been unveiled today eight months after the collapse of a similar initiative run by the Consumers' Association.

Safebuy - which is monitored by the DTI-backed industry self-regulation outfit TrustUK - claims it will fill the gap left by the closure of the Which? Web Trader scheme earlier this year.

More than two dozen etailers - including the Carphone Warehouse - have already signed up to the scheme, although it will have a long way to go to reach the 2,700 etailers signed up by Web Trader.

Unlike Web Trader, which was free, Safebuy costs etailers £145 (+ VAT) a year. According to those behind Safebuy, this funding is crucial if it is to succeed since the decision to pull the plug on Web Trader earlier this year was blamed on the high cost of running the scheme.

Safebuy is designed to give punters more confidence shopping online by highlighting those retailers prepared to have their operations tested and verified. It will also provide an avenue for complaints should punters have a grievance.

Said Safebuy founder Richard Jones: "The Internet has created an environment in which honest people with an entrepreneurial spirit can set up a business at relatively low cost.

"On the flip side it has also enabled those of a less ethical persuasion to take advantage of its virtual smoke and mirrors.

"Now, thanks to Safebuy, British consumers will be able to separate the safe traders from the shady ones and buy on the web with real confidence," ®

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