Feeds

OFT goes Christmas shopping to test website compliance

Top 600 retail sites get festive health check

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The UK's top 600 retail websites will be checked by the Trading Standards officers in about 100 local authorities during December to ensure they comply with key requirements of online shopping laws, the Office of Fair Trading has said.

The exercise will check whether sites provide shoppers with the contact details required by the Distance Selling Regulations, as well as correct information on their right to cancel. It will not check every aspect of legal compliance.

It is estimated that UK consumers will spend £14bn online this Christmas, according to the OFT. However, its research has shown that most online shoppers do not know that they have additional protection, and many websites may be breaching regulations by not fully respecting consumers' rights.

In June, the OFT published the findings of its internet shopping market study, which found that 28 per cent of the online traders it surveyed were unaware or only slightly aware of the laws applying to internet shopping, and 66 per cent had never sought advice on them.

More than 20 per cent of sites did not provide an email address as required by regulations and 16 per cent did not tell shoppers that they had a an unconditional right to cancel without giving a reason, provided they did so within seven working days of receiving their purchase. Most sites (59 per cent) appeared to impose conditions that could prevent or at least deter consumers from exercising their cancellation rights.

Heather Clayton, a senior director at the OFT, said: "Shoppers need to be confident that their rights are respected when they shop online. This sweep will identify where online retailers may be falling short and need to refresh their knowledge of the law."

Trading Standards officers will decide how best to address any potential breaches they identify, according to the OFT. An assessment of the web sweep results will be published in the New Year but offenders will not be named.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.