As online shopping grows, customers need to be confident they will receive the goods they order and the OFT is helping to ensure this is the case.
Online retailers need to abide by consumer law otherwise they face prosecution.
The OFT has successfully taken court action against an online computer software retailer who failed to deliver goods or provide timely refunds.
Arora Tech Limited, and associated websites ESave2Day, Shop4Tek.com and PricebustersUK.com offered a variety of computer software and hardware products for sale, including memory cards and hard drives. However in many cases the company failed to dispatch the items or supplied them up to several months late.
The companies’ director Pavan Arora has been ordered by Cardiff County Court to provide refunds to customers who remain out of pocket. If he fails to do so, he could be fined or imprisoned.
Consumers shopping on websites operated by Mr Arora who opted for ‘same day delivery’ or ‘express delivery’ for an additional fee often found that their items were not delivered as promised.
When the goods were not delivered a number of consumers attempted to cancel their purchases to obtain refunds but Mr Arora often ignored their requests and in many cases also failed to provide refunds.
Under the law, unless the shopper agrees otherwise, internet traders are generally required to supply goods within 30 days or provide a refund. Traders should also not offer for sale products that they cannot reasonably guarantee to supply.
Online shoppers have specific legal protections and different cancellation rights from those buying in store, including:
- an unconditional ‘cooling off’ period (usually seven days) during which an order can be cancelled and a full refund received (this excludes certain items such as perishable items or personalised goods)
- a full refund if the goods or services are not provided by the date agreed. If a date was not agreed, then the shopper is entitled to a refund if the goods or services are not provided within 30 days.
The OFT will be monitoring compliance with this order.
If you have bought from any of Mr Arora’s websites and not received goods or refunds the OFT is interested to hear from you.
Jason Freeman, Director of the OFT’s Goods and Consumer Group, said: ‘It is important that consumers can rely on internet retailers to supply products as promised. This court order should send a clear message to traders that they must comply with their obligations under consumer law or risk court proceedings.’
MoneyHighStreet.com comments: “Issues with retailers such as this can dent consumer confidence. It has to be recognised though that whether online or offline in the high street, there are undoubtedly unscrupulous retailers operating. Consumers need to make sure they know their rights and be clear about who they are shopping with.
“There are ways to help keep yourself safe when online shopping.
“Be careful – don’t fall into the trap that one of our team did when he recently tried to buy a camera from Camerabox.”