The news has brought into question some large retailers’ meeting of consumer laws and they have been given until Christmas to make sure that they are compliant.
It has been found that many business simply uploaded offline terms and conditions to their websites – but, often, this doesn’t meet the law’s requirements.
The OFT said that 33 per cent of the websites checked “appeared to impose unreasonable restrictions on customers’ rights to a refund.” It said that requiring customers to return goods in their original condition or original packaging “can infringe on consumers’ rights to reasonably inspect or assess the product.”
It also found that “60 per cent provided a web contact form rather than an email contact address, as required by the E-Commerce Regulations.”
OFT has now written to all of the 62 businesses that are infringing on the law, warning them that they could face fines and even court if the problems are not resolved.
Kim Walker, a partner at leading law firm Thomas Eggar, offers her top 10 tips for retailers on how to comply with this legislation:
1. Provide an email address rather than simply a web contact form so that customers can contact you directly.
2. Give your full geographical address, not just a PO Box number.
3. Make available a description of the main characteristics of the goods and/or services.
4. Specify the methods by which a customer can make payment.
5. Show the final price of goods and/or services upfront, including all taxes.
6. Make the delivery cost and arrangement information easy to access.
7. Inform the customer about their right to cancel any order placed at a distance.
8. Explain the return process. You cannot insist that the customer returns the goods in their original packaging as this could be in breach of their right to inspect the goods.
9. Detail the refund arrangements.