Bloomberg News

U.K. Regulator Tells 62 Online Stores to Change Terms

October 11, 2012

A U.K. regulator told 62 online retailers that their websites may not comply with the country’s consumer-protection rules and need to be changed.

The Office Fair Trading said a third of 156 retail websites it checked “appeared to impose unreasonable restrictions on customers’ rights to a refund.” Some 60 percent of the sites told customers to contact them on a Web form instead of supplying an e-mail address and at least 20 sites added unexpected charges at check-out, according to a statement from the agency.

The regulator didn’t name the retailers that it contacted to raise its concerns. Traders that don’t make changes to comply with the law risk enforcement action from the agency, it said.

The U.K. online retail market is set to climb in value to 77 billion pounds ($123.4 billion) this year, making it second only to the U.S., according to a June report from the U.K.’s department for business. The most common restriction cited on websites was a requirement for the product to be in the original packaging or in the original condition, which could infringe shoppers’ rights to inspect or assess the product, the OFT said.

Earlier this week, the OFT said it may take action against airlines that don’t include debit-card surcharges in their advertised prices. It is also investigating hotels over deals that may have limited online discounts for room sales.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.


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