The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has released the results of its December 2007 survey of UK-based websites which sell goods directly to customers and has concluded that there is widespread failure to comply with the laws relating to selling via the Internet.

 The OFT, working with trading standards officers, looked at 530 popular websites. The main findings were: 

-14 per cent of sites appeared not to comply with the law because they either provided no physical address or provided only a PO Box number;

-15 per cent of sites appeared not to comply with the requirement to give shoppers information on their right to cancel within seven working days;

-31 per cent of the sites appeared not to comply with the requirement on cancellation to refund the full cost of the goods. Of these, 56 per cent excluded the cost of original delivery from refunds; and  

-40 per cent of sites did not indicate when the price was first shown that compulsory additional charges would be added, but subsequently included such charges at checkout.

Says Jenny Howe of Vanderpump & Sykes Solicitors, “Despite the Distance Selling Regulations having been in force since 2000, there is widespread non-compliance with various aspects of the law in this area as there is also with the laws on disability discrimination, under which such websites must be ‘disability friendly’.