Shopping websites break the rulesWe find online stores break simple shopping rules

23 October 2008

Shopping online

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Which? can reveal that three in ten of your most visited shopping websites aren't getting the simplest shopping rules right.

We looked at the delivery and returns policies and contact information for the 51 most visited online shops according to our members in our survey of the .

But we found that 16 failed to comply on at least one rule from either the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) or the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations.

Delivery refunded

The DSRs say that the full cost of your order should be refunded when you return unwanted goods.

But some websites - Next.co.uk, Fragrancedirect.co.uk and Empiredirect.co.uk - still ensure that you pay out for the original postage when you want to return something.

However companies are allowed to make you pay for the cost of returning goods if you have simply changed your mind about buying them.

Right to cancel

You can cancel an order any time before delivery, and up to seven working days from the day after you receive your shopping - essentially eight working days after delivery.

The most common mistake of many websites that failed on this point was to miss the cut by one day - saying that you had seven working days from your delivery date to cancel an order. Homebase.co.uk, clothing shop Landsend.co.uk and electrical website Empiredirect.co.uk all fell down on this point.

Toy retailer Elc.co.uk and Orange.co.uk only give you seven days (including weekends and bank holidays) from delivery to cancel an order. Thebookpeople.co.uk gives you just seven days to return goods.

Online perks

But it’s not all bad news. Which.co.uk researchers were able to save over £50 buying electrical goods online instead of a high street store, so there are bargains to be had if you shop on the web.

And many of the 51 shopping websites received high customer scores in our of more than 8,000 members. Cosmetics website Lizearle.co.uk scored a staggering 95% - top of the survey overall, while in their individual categories, scores for Johnlewis.com, Figleaves.com, Amazon.co.uk, Virginmobile.com, Abebooks.co.uk and Wiggle.co.uk were all impressive.

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