European Consumer Centre Dublin announced the findings of the ECC Network Report on the Realities of the European online marketplace. The Report concludes that shopping on the internet is littered with problems but consumers have rights and must exercise them.
The ECC Network encountered three main problems when shopping online in the EU:
One in three goods were never delivered; key information was missing and returned goods were not reimbursed.
In 2002 thirteen ECCs participated in a shopping survey which involved 114 orders from webtraders in the EU. The following products were ordered: t-shirt, ink cartridges, paper, CD, DVD, toy, dictionary and watch. Only 75 of these orders resulted in a delivery. That means that 34% of the goods were not delivered.
In addition to the shopping exercise 262 EU websites were examined for the purpose of evaluating the quality of information provided. Among the provisions of the Distance Selling Directive, a consumer is given seven days (cooling-off) after receipt of the good/service to make a final decision whether or not to keep it. 32% of the websites gave no information regarding the consumer’s right to withdraw from the contract.
If the consumer decides to withdraw from an online contract the consumer is entitled to a refund. To test if the webtraders adhered to this provision the ECC network returned 57 of the 75 goods received. In 18 of those cases the network did not receive any refund. This represents 31.5%.
Fifteen Irish webtraders were examined for the quality of information provided. Only two of the websites complied with the cooling-off period of seven days.
“The results show that consumers experience numerous problems shopping online in the EU. But there is protection for consumers and greater awareness of these rights will inspire confidence in online shopping” stated Tina Leonard Manager ECC Dublin.
Irene Gahan, IIA CEO speaking at launch of ECC report said: “I am disappointed but not surprised at the results of this report. In general, however, Irish web sites didn`t fare too badly but there is room for vast improvement. I would call on all IIA members to strictly adhere to the legislation. I will be working with both the ECC and the Office of Consumer Affairs to educate and assist Irish e-tailers to ensure their sites are fully compliant. Full details of the report will be available for download from the IIA site”
See Resources Downloads to download the report.