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Online retailers to face tougher regulations

03 April 2014 - 15:10 by Graham Miller

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Companies offering shopping online in the UK will, from today, be subjected to the scrutiny of a brand new organisation which is dedicated to upholding fairness and ensuring competition is strong.

In the past, the Office of Fair Trading has been responsible for making sure that consumers get a good deal when they buy products and services from the web. But now it has been replaced in favour of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), according to Internet Retailing.

In an interview with the Financial Times, CMA spokesperson, Alex Chisholm, said that his organisation will be getting to work immediately by carrying out an industry-wide study, which looks at the state of e-commerce in the UK and works out whether there are any areas in which regulations are currently failing consumers.

One area of particular interest outlined by Chisholm is that of the e-commerce start-up culture in the UK, because at the moment, many claim that small firms are having trouble breaking into the e-commerce market which is dominated by a few big name players.

Companies like Amazon have certainly been criticised in the past for taking business away from smaller rivals because of aggressive price cutting and other tactics, but whether or not such established brands will be found to have breached rules on competition, remains to be seen.

The creation of the CMA is certainly a positive step for people who love indulging in safe shopping online but are concerned about protecting their rights when they do decide to part with a bit of cash over the internet.

Hopefully, the new regulators will look not only at the way that competition works, but whether e-commerce companies are living up to expectations when it comes to security, which is an important matter.