Regulator wants consumers to have more knowledge about their online shopping rights
UK consumers still don’t fully understand their rights when they shop online, according to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
At the request of the Government, which published a white paper in July 2009 identifying the need for an online consumer protection strategy, Ofcom has published plans to improve the protections available for consumers.
The consumer protection regulator said its approach was not pushing for new laws, but to ensure consumers are better educated about their rights; this should include making existing laws and regulations clearer and introducing consistency between online and offline protection such as the Distance Selling Regulations and Sale of Goods Act and its various ammendments.
The OFT aims to “empower consumers”, make “them more internet-savvy", and provide people “with tools to fix problems they may encounter.”
As well as educating consumers and clarifying the laws and regulations, it will also focus on improving the regulation of retailers and the quality of enforcement.
The aim is to get the OFT, local Trading Standards services and other agencies to work together more effectively. The regulator said it wants this strategy implemented by the end of the year.
Additional research published by the OFT also found that complicated pricing was likely to confuse consumers. It is therefore also conducting an investigation into some of the pricing methods commonly used online, such as time-limited offers, and will report fully on its findings later this year.
The OFT said it was keen to hear from anyone interested in ecommerce and responses must be in before 13 October.
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