Online retailers face OFT action

City A.M. Reporter
Over a third of the UK's top online retailers could be breaking consumer laws, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) announced today.

The OFT conducted checks on 156 popular websites, finding that 62 retailers may not be fully compliant with distance-selling regulations and other consumer protection guidelines.

In particular, the OFT expressed concerns that 33 per cent of sites appeared to impose “unreasonable restrictions” on customers' rights to a refund, commonly requiring that products be in their original packaging, potentially infringing on consumers' rights to assess their purchases.

Two per cent of online retailers provided no contact details at all and some websites were found to add unexpected charges upon checkout.

The OFT has written to the 62 problem retailers, urging compliance with regulations ahead of the busy Christmas period.

A senior director at the OFT, Cavendish Elithorn, said: “The OFT recognises that most businesses want to play fair with their customers and to comply with the law. We encourage all online retailers to check their websites so customers can be confident their rights are being respected when they shop online.”

The OFT’s “sweep” was not a formal investigation, and without further forensic analysis they are not in a legal position to name and shame the companies over which they have concerns.