The Labour Party is today scrambling to make sure its website complies with the law after being alerted by vnunet.com that its online shop fails to comply with laws to protect consumer rights.
In the cause of investigative journalism, a vnunet.com correspondent bought a polyester blue tie from the Labour Party's online shop for £8.99, but was dismayed to discover that at no time during the online transaction was there any information on refund or exchange policies.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) revealed this week that a 'mystery surf' showed that around half of all UK websites are breaching consumer law by failing to give consumers clear and full information for goods or services bought from home, including information on their cancellation rights.
The Labour government introduced the Distance Selling Regulations last October, enshrining consumers' rights to clear information before placing orders, written information about purchases and a cooling off period, during which an order can be cancelled for any reason and a full refund received.
Mark Kram, acting head of news at OFT, confirmed that a website "must tell consumers in advance of ordering that there is a refund policy, or risk breaching regulations".
He said that the Distance Selling Team would investigate the matter. "The law gives the Director General of Fair Trading the power of injunction to make companies comply with the law," he explained.
However, it looks unlikely that the Labour Party will stand trial over their website's breach of consumer laws.
A Labour Party spokeswoman thanked vnunet.com for informing them about the breach, adding: "By the end of the day the website will comply with the regulations and a refund policy will be outlined on the site."
Mike Pullen, an internet lawyer at Dibb Lupton Alsop, said: "It shows a very cavalier attitude by the Labour Party towards the new regulations, which they introduced only six months ago, and [towards] ebusiness."
"They are setting a poor example, but I am not surprised because many businesses operating online are ignorant of their regulatory obligations," he added.
Best reader comment WINS the dark blue polyester tie adorned with a Labour Party rose, which was featured in this article.
As modelled here by vnunet's very own Andrew Craig.
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