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Audit Finds Many Popular UK Websites do Not Comply with Consumer Protection Regulations

The United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading recently released their results from a study examining the most popular websites to ensure they complied with distance selling rules and other regulations. It was found that two-thirds of these websites were not in compliance with at least one consumer protection law.

The Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) examination consisted of 156 of the most popular websites in the UK to check their compliance with all current consumer protection laws. While it found that most online retailers are complying with the Distance Selling Regulations there are several other aspects websites are not keeping current with. The rule most broken by these websites was that they did not provide a contact email address for consumers to use, but rather only a web-based contact form. According to the OFT nearly 60 percent of UK retailers are violating this regulation while 2 percent had no means for online contact at all.

The second most common infraction were restrictions on refunds and compulsory charges which were deemed unreasonable while consumers were not informed about these conditions before making the purchase. 33 percent of websites were said to have unreasonable restrictions on refunds. Additionally, 24 percent of the websites checked were accused of adding undisclosed and unexpected charges during the checkout process.

In total 62, or nearly 40 percent, of the websites investigated received a written notice from the OFT who has warned that these violations must be addressed by Christmas or the websites will be subject to sanctions.

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