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back to article OFT writes volley of stern letters to naughty web retailers

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned well-known online retailers trading in Britain that some of them could face formal enforcement action from the watchdog if they failed to comply fully with consumer protection law. It said the regulator had, ahead of the busy Christmas shopping period, written letters to 62 leading …

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Anonymous Coward

There are also in-shop tricks..

I have seen a well know large retailer start to put out discounts now, which have an expiry date in small print around mid November, then leave those prices on display. When people go to pay for them they will face the full price as the ticket shows in tiny letters an expired offer date.

I should walk in again, last time they ended up selling things at the discount price to me, because that was cheaper than getting a visit from Trading Standards with all the photographic evidence I collected..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There are also in-shop tricks.. TESCO

Having bought a chocolate pudding from Tesco I eagerly opened the tub took one mouthful and spat it out, it was so 'off' I had to rinse my mouth out to get rid of the taste. It was well within the sell by date.

Taking it back the next day I asked for a refund, they refused because I had not bought my receipt. The pudding was incidentally a Tesco product. They were happy to exchange it, I wanted my money back, £1. I was going to use the pound to but a paper.

They refused, it was exchange or nothing. It then became a matter of principle.

I asked to see the manager who duly arrived and stated it was store policy, no refund without the receipt.

I reminded him that store policy does not take precedence over the consumer rights act. He stood his ground, but so did I, a queue began to form behind me.

The deadlock was finally broken when I said that I would contact the Environmental Health Department and they may well want to investigate this and have a look round his store.

I got my £1 back.

The bottom line is that the Manager at Tesco had been poorly trained, just like most of the customer services departments in this country.

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Devil

Re: There are also in-shop tricks..

There's another tactic you can use for that which equally inconveniences them.

Depending on what else you have in your trolley, or whether you really need it; I will sometimes just say "Fine, I don't want it at that price" and walk off leaving them to place all items back on the shelves. If enough people did this they'd soon change their pricing policies.

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Thumb Up

Original Packaging

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Most common was requiring that the product must be in the original packaging or in the original condition, which can infringe on consumers' rights to reasonably inspect/ assess the product.

Spot on.

Especially with regards to all those bits of 'stuff' encased in plastin that are impossible to open without:-

1) Totaly destroying said packaging

2) Risking having to spend N hours in your local A&E getting the wound you suffered stitche up when attacking said inpeneratable packing with a large knife.

If I have to destroy packaging and find that the device is faulty I make sure I take plenty of pictures as evidence for the small claims court in case the retailer plays hardball about giving me my money back

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Re: Original Packaging

> If I have to destroy packaging and find that the device is faulty...

The reference was to being allowed to inspect an item and decide you didn't want it after all even when not faulty.

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Silver badge

Re: Original Packaging

Some 'E' tailers baulk at replacing items full stop. They say that they have no way of knowing the item you purchased from them is the one that they supplied you. Thankfully these are in the minority.

Then they go into the 'replacement' but no 'refund' dialogue.

Or they try

'You didn't send the original receipt back with the items' game.

Also you should refuse to do business with any online retailer who does not give at least their Registered Address on their site. 0870 type support/sales numbers are also a NO-NO in my book.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Contact details

UK businesses are required to list their head office address and company registered number on their web site. If a site does not do this (sometimes they are cleverly hidden in T&Cs or similar) then they should be reported to Companies House who can take action.

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Anonymous Coward

Do what?

60 per cent provided a web contact form rather than an email contact address, as required by the E-Commerce Regulations. Two per cent provided no electronic contact details at all.

So a form is bad??? My web form not only emails the customer and me (obviously), but it also protects against spam and ensures the request is captured in a database, in case the email "disappears"...

So this is illegal now? Do these regulators have any idea about selling online? Spammer heaven.... :s

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do what?

There's nothing to stop you having an email address shown as well as the form, is there? How much re-writing and redesign does that involve?

And you don't even have to make it a "mailto" link, either, just plain text somewhere down the bottom of the form, so that by the time most people get there they've already filled in your form?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do what?

You've obviously got it wrong then, the regulations are there to protect the consumer are they not? I'd rather buy off someone that follows the regulations.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Do what?

>>There's nothing to stop you having an email address shown as well as the form, is there? How much >>re-writing and redesign does that involve?

>>And you don't even have to make it a "mailto" link, either, just plain text somewhere down the bottom of the >>form, so that by the time most people get there they've already filled in your form?

If you put an email address on a web site in any form of text, it will be scraped by a bot and spammed within hours. They need to rethink the ECommerce Regulations to take account of today's malicious internet users.

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Boffin

@Alister Re: Do what?

Eh, no.

There is at least one perfectly good obfuscation method which will cause the majority of scrapers not to see an email address which is presented in plain text (and even as a clickable mailto: link) on the user's screen. I know this as I have used it for several years and received not one spam message to the many (inbound only) webmaster addresses concerned.

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The problem with Web forms is that the customer has no record of what was sent.

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Anonymous Coward

READ and TRY AGAIN.

So a form is bad??? My web form not only emails the customer and me (obviously), but it also protects against spam and ensures the request is captured in a database, in case the email "disappears"...

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Anonymous Coward

"My web form not only emails the customer and me "

Not my experience of most web forms. Good that yours is different, but maybe you can see why others may object when confronted with a form.

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XBL DLC

On Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace they specify 'no refunds' for downloadable content.

Isn't that illegal? I understood even a sign saying 'no refunds' is illegal in itself under UK trading law.

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FAIL

Blue Unplugged

This sorry excuse for a company must surely be on the OFT's "hit list". A few years ago I bought a Parrot CK3100 car kit from them. It arrived with several items missing from inside the sealed box - obviously someone at Parrot had forgotten to pack them. Blue Unplugged didn't want to know. They said I had to contact Parrot about it as it was nothing to do with them. I quoted the Sales of Goods Act to them, which clearly states that it is up to the retailer to sort these problems out, either by refund or replace. Again, Blue Unplugged didn't want to know. Even after threatening them with court action, they didn't want to know, and instead sent me a particularly abusive email.

Trading Standards proved to be about as useful as a chocolate teapot. "Nothing to do with us, try going to court."

FAIL all round.

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Just take them to the small claims court

If a retailer gives you grief over a refund that you're legally entitled to all you need to do is get everything in writing and inform them that you're going to file a claim with the county court unless they comply. I've represented myself in the small claims court twice and the judge on both occasions was very supportive.

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Mushroom

Re: Just take them to the small claims court

+1

The only thing that really irks me there though is that the vast majority of retailers with whom you get to that stage will capitulate at the very last minute, but only after causing you no end of grief with timewasting bullshit and outright lies.

They will also invariably attempt to couch their eventual capitulation as them somehow doing you a massive favour.

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The customer's always right, eh ?

Not much support on here today for the honest trader who gets stuffed every time by those b'stards who know their rights and profit by them, leaving the trader with nothing but costs and losses, anger, and no legal comeback.

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