Over half of online electronic retailers break EU consumer laws
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10 September 2009
A European Union study into 369 websites selling electronic
goods has revealed 55% fail to comply with statutory consumer laws. 200 of these
sites were the biggest selling consumer electronics websites. 6 of the 14 UK
websites in the investigation 'showed irregularities'.
The EU checked compliance with the Distance Selling Regulations,
The E-Commerce Directive and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. 66% of
problem websites provided misleading information about consumer rights.
45% of problem sites misled consumers on total price, and 33% of
problem sites had incomplete contact details of the trader. Some websites would
misinform consumers over delivery charges by applying them at the very end of
the transaction, or falsely advertising that delivery is free.
Under EU law, there must be complete information about the name,
geographical address and email address of the trader. Online traders must
provide detailed information about the products characteristics, price and
delivery costs. Consumers must be fully informed of their right to return,
warrantee and refunds.
Sites selling electronic goods were targeted because of the huge
number of complaints consumer protection bodies received. This is mainly because
of the market size; one in four EU consumers who have purchased anything online
have bought an electric product. The level of infringement uncovered in the
investigation is alarming in light of the market for consumer electronic goods
in Europe being worth approximately €6.8bn in 2007.
In light of the report, the EU is likely to introduce stricter
regulations to stop future unfair practices by websites selling electronic
Some traders have now been reported and will be contacted by the
appropriate national authorities to correct the problems identified. Persistent
offenders could be taken to court which could result in fines and the suspension
of their website.
To prevent similar sanctions being imposed on your website,
legal advice should be taken to ensure your services are not in breach of
internet laws. Stay Legal's e-commerce solicitors <http://www.stay-legal.com/>
ensure e-compliance with our Stay Legal Seal. As UK experts in Internet law,
e-commerce law, Internet and e-commerce compliance, Stay Legal will keep your
business on the right side of Internet law.
Zerbakht Khan is a legal assistant to Izaz Ali (Izaz.Ali@lawdit.co.uk)
Izaz is a commercial lawyer who specialises in information technology law and
intellectual property law with an emphasis on IT, escrow, online and off-line
contracts, and the buying and selling of online businesses.
About the Author
Lawdit Solicitors offer services and
advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal
agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on
Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the
International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court
Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign
association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-09-30 12:37:51 in Legal Articles