Which? claims thousands of internet retailers may be breaking laws that protect customers.
It said too many online sites were ignoring the rules.
Which? is warning retailers to make sure they comply with what are known as the Distance Selling regulations – such as tie to return sold goods.
If you are running an online retail business it is vital that you are aware of the laws that you are bound by.
In general you are required to:
- give potential customers certain information in advance, such as your name and address, the goods you are selling or the services you are providing, the price (including all taxes), delivery cost, delivery arrangements, and customers’ right to cancel
- send customers an order confirmation giving information such as your postal address and cancellation arrangements
- allow customers a seven working day cooling off period during which they can cancel their contract with you.
The final point above is where most retailers slip-up.
Customers have seven working days, from receiving the goods, in which to cancel the order.
They then have a reasonable amount of time to return them.
Providing cancellation was within that period, consumers are entitled to a full refund.
That means no site should charge an administration or re-stocking fee, unless the purchase was cancelled outside the seven-day period.
Retailers are also bound to refund any postage and packing fee on the original delivery.
However, depending on the conditions, the retailer may not be liable for the costs of sending the goods back.
Full information can be found at the Office of Fair Trading website.