Over half of websites selling consumer electronics are breaking European regulations, an EU investigation has found.
The investigation across 26 EU countries, along with Norway and Iceland, covered a total of 369 websites selling six of the most popular electronic goods to consumers in the EU – computer equipment, games consoles, digital cameras, mobile phones, DVD players and personal music players. Over 100 of these had been the subject of consumer complaints.
The sweep found that 55 per cent of the sites checked in May were breaking at least one of three EU laws designed to protect consumers.
Of the problem sites, 66 per cent provided misleading information about consumer rights, such as refund policies, order cancellations and warrantees.
45 per cent of the offending websites provided misleading information about the total price of the product, such as delivery charges that were messing or hard to find, or were not applied until the final payment stage. 33 per cent did not provide the trader’s full contact details, including name, geographical address and email address.
"We targeted websites selling electronic goods because I know from my own mail bag, and we know from the level of complaints coming into European Consumer Centres that these are a real problem area for consumers,” EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said.
“We discovered that more than half of the retailers selling online electronic goods are letting consumers down. This is a Europe-wide problem which needs a European solution. There is a lot of work to be done in the months ahead to clean up this sector, Europe's consumers deserve better."
Traders breaching the regulations will now be contacted by their national authorities and asked to correct the problems or clarify their position. Failure to comply with the law could lead to hefty fines or the websites being closed.