CWN - News & Information for Coventry & Warwickshire 20x21spacer.gif (59 bytes)What's New?Search CWN
Internet Shopping Fails To Meet The Mark

Almost 40 per cent of goods ordered on the internet ran into problems, according to a shopping survey by Warwickshire Trading Standards.

Officers teamed up with colleagues in two other counties for one of the largest surveys of internet shopping sites conducted in the country.

It concluded that e-commerce companies still have much to learn about customer service.

The survey has revealed that the shopping experience for consumers is still extremely variable. Bold promises on attractive sites did not necessarily lead to good service.

The survey involved the attempted purchase of 102 items over the internet from 100 UK based companies, and followed the whole transaction through, from purchase and delivery to dealing with complaints.

Many of the small businesses came out of the survey well, with the best delivering goods within 24 hours with a fully inclusive price and offering a 30-day returns policy.

However, many large and sometimes well-known businesses delivered a disappointing level of service, particularly when they relied upon independent courier companies.

Late or non-delivery of goods was a typical problem, with many companies failing to track goods to ensure delivery.

Some of the issues the survey highlighted included:

  • a firm which took credit card details and then disappeared
  • a vitamin supplement supplier whose site was not secure and who breached security by e-mailing credit card details
  • a national flower delivery company that failed to delivery - or to check that the delivery had been made, but still managed to take the money from the credit card
  • a number of book companies who promised a guaranteed delivery date on books that had not yet been published
  • a confectionery company whose chocolates arrived crushed
  • a clothing and accessory company who provided sunglasses that bore no resemblance to their website image
  • a local computer company who charged £10 to deliver a computer mouse 15 miles

Of the 102 attempted orders, 38 per cent did not arrive within the time specified, and 17 per cent did not arrive at all either because of systems crashes, companies disappearing, items out of stock or orders simply forgotten.

Almost a third of orders were not confirmed whilst notification of dispatch was made in less that half of all cases. Overall, problems were experienced in 37 per cent of all attempted purchases.

Noel Hunter, Director of Warwickshire Trading Standard Standards, said:

"With the advent of digital TV and more widespread use of new technology, ever increasing numbers of people in the future will want to take advantage of the many benefits offered by shopping on the internet.

“However, our survey has revealed that presently, in many cases consumers are experiencing a poor level of service and that in a number of instances, consumers would have had their products quicker, and cheaper, and with less hassle, had they visited their local High Street.

“This survey will, I believe, help the Trading Standards Service to identify those areas where consumers are receiving a poor service and help officers to provide appropriate help and advice to e-businesses to ensure they get things right."

He added that officers have been encouraged by the announcement that the new Distance Selling Regulations will become law on 31 October.

This piece of European legislation will help to protect consumers buying on line by stipulating that websites must include the name of the company, a full description of the goods or services and prices including taxes and delivery charges where they apply

1x22rule.gif (89 bytes)
Warwickshire County Council - Our County 1998-2001

150x15more.gif (274 bytes)


Find an old School Friend on CWN

Win prizes every day with the CWN competition!

Have your say on TalkZone!

CWN / Politics / Warwickshire County Council / 12 Oct 00

©1995-2000 Coventry Internet Developments Ltd

This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM