The OFT has written to 62 of the top online retailers ahead of the busy Christmas period after a sweep of 156 websites found signs that many may not be fully complying with consumer protection law.

The sweep looked for potential breaches of the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) and other consumer protection laws and is part of the OFT’s ongoing work to ensure that consumers can shop confidently online.

A key area of concern is that over one-third of sites impose unreasonable restrictions on the right to a refund. Most common is requiring that the product must be returned in the original packaging or in the original condition. Also, over half of websites do not provide correct company information as required by ecommerce Regulations.

Businesses that do not comply with the law risk formal enforcement action from the OFT or Trading Standards. Businesses subjected to an OFT enquiry suffer in terms of adverse publicity, wasted management time and costs.

The DSRs give legal rights to consumers who buy online. In fact, the DSRs place the consumer in a much stronger position than they would be buying goods in store. And they can be seriously disadvantageous to the trader. However, to some extent online traders can re-dress the balance and improve the default position through their terms and conditions.

Please contact us to help make sure that your on-line store is legally compliant and also to make sure that your T&Cs are optimised so far as possible in relation to the DSRs.

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