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Study reveals some online retailers break refund rules

18 October 2012 - 12:18 by Simon Crisp

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Consumers across the UK will be gearing up for the busiest shopping period of the year, but it seems that some online retailers are more scrupulous than others, when it comes to catering to the rights of their customers.

A survey from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), has found that 62 of the UK's most popular e-commerce outlets have failed to live up to the standards laid out in official regulations regarding consumer rights, during safe shopping online.

This represents about a third of the 156 biggest online retailers, with the problem firms apparently putting too many limitations on the situations in which a consumer could request a refund, after receiving a product.

The problem arises when you consider the trade-off between consumers being able to examine the goods that they have purchased via safe shopping online and the approach taken by some retailers, which requires that goods that are returned for a refund be kept in their original packaging.

This obviously means that consumers cannot get a good look at a product without potentially falling foul of an individual site's returns and refunds policy, which may in itself be breaking rules that govern consumer rights, according to the OFT survey.

From the point of view of customers, it is worth remembering that there are a number of protections in place, which should allow you to get your money back when you have carried out safe shopping online.

For example, the Distance Selling Regulations ensure that any item you buy online can be returned for a full refund, which should factor in the costs of shipping, at any point within seven days after you receive it.

The best retailers should be clear about their policies and also ensure that they follow the regulator's rules.