Home page logo
/

interesting-people logo Interesting People mailing list archives

OFT [UK Office of Fair Trading] to investigate online shopping
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 16:14:49 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: Alice Kehoe <akehoe () zen org>
Date: April 30, 2006 11:57:51 AM EDT
To: brendan () zen org, dave () farber net
Subject: OFT [UK Office of Fair Trading] to investigate online shopping


http://technology.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329467246-117802,00.html

OFT to investigate online shopping as sales boom
· Focus on retail, auctions, air tickets and music
· Customers' security worries to be examined

Simon Bowers
Friday April 28, 2006
Guardian

The Office of Fair Trading is to launch a wide-reaching inquiry into online shopping to test levels of consumer protection and confidence in the rapidly growing web marketplace, worth about £18bn in Britain, or 2.5% of household spending. The study, to be published in the spring of 2007, will focus on four of the most popular areas of online retailing: auction websites, airline ticket sales, electrical goods and web music stores, including download sites.

The OFT pointed to a recent consumer survey which found 29% of shoppers said they were deterred from buying, or never bought, goods and services online because of security concerns. Another survey suggested a third of online consumers had fears about the state in which their purchased goods might arrive, if at all.

Confidence in the delivery process has been undermined by reports of scams abusing online payment systems such as eBay's PayPal. There have been a number of allegations that auction site sellers have sent out goods only for buyers to falsely claim they have not been received and demand their payment be blocked. A range of much- publicised hoax, or misleading, websites and e-mails have also undermined consumer confidence.

John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT, said: "The internet is fast becoming a hugely important channel for consumers and businesses. Its rapid evolution means that we need to ensure that the consumer protection regime gives current and future users the confidence to realise the internet's potential for shopping. This study is core to the OFT's mission to make the markets work well for consumers."

Whatever the fears of some consumers, however, online retailers have continued to increase sales. Retail goods sales alone were last year estimated at £8.2bn in Britain, or 3.1% of all retail sales. Adding in services such as subscriptions, gambling and pornography, government figures valued total UK internet sales for 2004 at £18.1bn - up 68% on the previous year. Where online sales accounted for 0.1% of the retail trade in 1997, they now have a 3.1% share of the market.

If many shoppers still fear buying online, others have made it part of their everyday routine, the OFT noted. Some surveys have found typical internet consumers spend £560 a year on the web.

The OFT has already moved to clamp down on specific concerns raised by some areas of online retailing. Last month it asked supermarkets to clarify their web pricing after complaints that online promotions appeared not to have been honoured on the day goods were delivered. The watchdog has also clamped down on websites offering misleading or outdated flight prices to attract potential customers. Shoppers who tried to book at these prices were diverted to less attractive offers.

An OFT spokeswoman stressed no individual companies were under investigation in the latest exploratory research, which will seek contributions from operators and consumer groups as well as conducting a mystery shopping programme. While the OFT has received a small and growing number of complaints concerning internet retailers, the study has not been prompted by any allegation of anti-competitive or illegal practices.

The OFT inquiry will not tackle widely publicised gripes such as disparities in music download prices between the US and Britain from sites such as iTunes.



-------------------------------------
You are subscribed as lists-ip () insecure org
To manage your subscription, go to
 http://v2.listbox.com/member/?listname=ip

Archives at: http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/


  By Date           By Thread  

Current thread:
  • OFT [UK Office of Fair Trading] to investigate online shopping David Farber (Apr 30)
[ Nmap | Sec Tools | Mailing Lists | Site News | About/Contact | Advertising | Privacy ]