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E-commerce firms must improve refund process, study finds

13 October 2011 - 09:42 by Graham Miller

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Fifty per cent of companies that offer safe shopping online to UK consumers are failing to meet their obligations when it comes to refunds, according to a report analysed by the BBC.

Consumers have a legal ability to return a product for a full refund within a cooling off period after purchasing, but less than half are able to get all of their cash back if they decide to make a claim.

The issue here is that fifty seven per cent of online retailers do not give back the money consumers spend on postage and packaging, which can leave you seriously out of pocket after a major purchase.

Because products you buy via safe shopping online cannot be analysed in person, there is an obligatory period of seven days, during which you can send back your purchase for a full refund.

Retailers should deliver this refund as soon as possible within a 30-day period and, most importantly, this sum should include whatever you have paid for delivery.

Since 2003 the number of retailers that do not stick to this legal necessity has actually risen by four per cent, suggesting that the consumers of 2011 are less likely to be fully reimbursed after returning a product.

The good news is that in almost every other respect, online shopping has improved over the years, with delivery times decreasing and websites providing much more detailed information about products and services.

The European Union is working to update legislation on retail because most of the current rules were drawn up prior to the e-commerce boom. This means UK consumers could soon enjoy an extended two week cooling off period, during which it will be possible to return an item and get a full refund, as standard.