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One third of top online retailers ‘breaking consumer laws’

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is urging online retailers to review their websites, following the revelation that more than a third of the UK’s top retail sites are breaking consumer laws.

Checks conducted by the OFT on the UK’s most popular websites found that retailers were imposing unreasonable restrictions on returns, and adding extra charges at the online checkout without prior warning.

Key problems uncovered by the research include a requirement that customers return goods in their original packaging or original condition.

Meanwhile, two thirds of retailers failed to supply an email address by which customers could contact them, although they are required to do so by law.

In addition, many websites added further unexpected charges to the final bill, such as credit card charges and booking fees.

Cavendish Elithorn of the OFT said, ‘The OFT recognises that most businesses want to play fair with their customers and comply with the law. We encourage all online retailers to check their websites so customers can be confident their rights are being respected when they shop online’.