On 12 October 2012, the Office for Fair Trading issued a report
and press release following an investigation into online retailers
and their compliance with the Consumer Protection (Distance
Selling) Regulations and other consumer protection law.
The OFT surveyed 156 of the top online retailers' websites
to examine their terms and conditions. Of these 156 retailers, the
OFT has written to 62 to warn them that they may not be compliant
with consumer protection regulation.
The OFT has a number of key areas of concern, including:
restrictions on customers' rights to receive a refund after
restrictions on customers' rights to reasonably inspect and
assess the product and then return it if defective;
a lack of contact details on retailers' websites; and
unexpected charges imposed at the point of checkout – a
practice known as "drip pricing" about which the OFT has
previously raised concern, as noted in our previous Law-Now.
The OFT has announced has announced that retailers who do not
amend their terms and conditions in order to comply with consumer
protection regulation will run the risk of formal enforcement
action from the OFT or local Trading Standards Services.
Cavendish Elithorn, Senior Director of the Goods and Consumer
Group at the OFT 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
Overall, the OFT was satisfied that almost all retailers provide
satisfactory information in relation to delivery and that most
retailers are generally compliant with consumer regulation.
However, with the OFT's report having been pointedly released
just before the Christmas rush, retailers (particularly those
contacted by the OFT) should urgently revisit their policies to
avoid enforcement by the OFT.
If you are concerned that your terms and conditions don't
comply with consumer protection law, get in touch with our industry
experts detailed below.
This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron
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Whether your entire retail business operates online, or the internet is part of a multi-channel strategy, you need to ensure that you are complying with the Distance Selling Regulations to keep customers happy.
The duty to make reasonable adjustments was first introduced under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which was replaced by the Equality Act 2010 from 1 October 2010.
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