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Online Shopping

Consumers unsure of their rights under the Distance Selling Regulations Act according to eCustomerServiceIndex research


By Gillian West, Social media manager

February 5, 2013 | 3 min read

According to the latest eCustomerServiceIndex results from eDigitalResearch less than half (42 per cent) of consumers have heard of the Distance Selling Regulations Act, with those who had heard of it still struggling to correctly identify their rights under the Act.

The research shows major consumer confusion surrounding online returns and distance selling regulations. Of those that were aware of the regulations, just two thirds (69 per cent) rightly identified they were entitled to cancel an online order within seven days. Almost a third (30 per cent) also correctly identified that if they returned an item they were entitled to a full refund including delivery costs.

Of those surveyed 41 per cent wrongly said they should not be refunded for delivery costs when returning an online purchase, highlighting a lack of consumer knowledge when it comes to Distance Selling Regulations. A further 40 per cent also said they’ve had a situation in the past where their delivery costs weren’t refunded to them when returning an item. A further 88 per cent also said they had been told by retailers that their delivery costs were non-refundable.

Five per cent of respondents said they had returned an item in the past only to be refused a refund with almost a quarter (22 per cent) of these being told it was because the item was not in the original packaging, despite this not being a required condition under the Distance Selling Regulations.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of online shoppers said they had encountered hidden charges, despite retailers having to clearly identify all costs. Of that 27 per cent, over half (52 per cent) claimed it was because the full cost of delivery was not clearly stated and 37 per cent cited credit card fees.

eDigitalResearch commercial director, Derek Eccleston, commented: “Not only is consumer knowledge surrounding their rights on Distance Selling Regulations worryingly low, but it also appears that a lot of retailers aren’t 100 per cent complying with the rules and regulations.

“Online shopping has practically become an everyday occurrence for some consumers and is a trend that is only going to grow in the future with the introduction of smartphones and portable computer devices, such as tablets. It is therefore important that shoppers are clear on what they are entitled to, particularly around the right to cancel, the ability to reasonably inspect a product and a refund for their standard delivery.”

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