The National Consumer Council (NCC) has called on the Government to step up regulatory efforts, after it told UK e-tailers that poor customer confidence in ecommerce is their own fault because they have failed to protect their customers.
According to the NCC, 83 per cent of UK websites did not meet UK laws and international guidelines aimed at protecting consumers when they shop on the internet.
Across the EU, the figure was 61 per cent.
The NCC said in a statement: "Unless tough action is taken to bring those lax businesses up to speed, consumer confidence in ecommerce cannot be expected to improve."
Websites are falling down by failing to provide information on payment arrangements, cancellation rights and what their returns and complaints policies are.
The NCC also found two in five firms failed to deliver goods within time periods quoted, and attempts to return goods and retain refunds were plagued "by bureaucracy and inconvenience".
Deirdre Hutton, NCC's chairwoman, said: "The consumer experience of online shopping is just not good enough.
"It is especially disappointing that despite the introduction of voluntary international guidelines and EU-wide laws to improve consumer protection and boost confidence in ecommerce, the consumer experience has improved so little since the first global e-shopping survey two years ago. Small wonder that e-shopping is such a tiny slice of retail sales.
"Perhaps the time has come to think again about whether government and regulators need to play a more active role in ensuring businesses meet consumer expectations."
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