Online shoppers left in the dark

Online shoppers left in the dark

Know your online rights, says Trading Standards Institute

Many online shoppers are unaware of their rights and the potential pitfalls in buying over the internet, the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) warned today at the launch of National Consumer Week.

The TSI also fired a warning shot at the 62,000-plus UK businesses that trade online, many of which are "not clued up about their legal obligations to consumers", according to the organisation.

Many sellers are unaware of their obligation to provide clear written information about their goods or services, including contact details, information on how to cancel an order, and a breakdown of costs, including any relevant taxes and delivery charges.

"The findings from an Office of Fair Trading study into online shopping demonstrate the urgent need to improve awareness among shoppers and sellers and to highlight the danger signs, " said Ron Gainsford, chief executive at the TSI.

"Our principal message is simple: when buying from afar, know what your rights are."
The TSI's week-long initiative draws on the findings of a 14-month inquiry into internet shopping published by the Office of Fair Trading in June.

In some cases, online shoppers have more rights than when they buy through high street retail outlets. Under the Distance Selling Regulations, for example, online consumers are entitled to a seven-day 'cooling-off' period.