TrustUK, the UK government's scheme for giving ecommerce websites a stamp of approval, has come under fire for being too limited in scope.
The non-profit organisation set up at the government's request by the Alliance for Electronic Business and the Consumers Association, was launched yesterday with the intention of guaranteeing minimum service levels for online consumers.
Firms requesting the TrustUK seal for their websites must agree to operate under its code of conduct. But the code has been criticised by online retailers, and the operators of other web hallmark schemes, for being too lenient.
The code requires sites to inform visitors of any personal data stored on them, not collect information from children under 12 without parental consent, operate using secure servers, clearly show any additional costs to the price of products displayed and have a transparent policy on returns, collections and refunds. They must also send notifications when orders are placed and guarantee delivery within 30 days.
But the criteria have been criticised for being the very minimum required. Loot.com, the online classified ads service, said it had lobbied TrustUK for stricter qualification criteria and that the hallmark would do little to inspire consumer trust in online shopping.
Trust-On-Line, a global assurance scheme, criticised the code for being too UK-focused and for dealing only with trade associations, while other rival Clicksure said it was flawed because it failed to contain an element of third-party verification.
TrustUK shrugged off the claims, saying it had been set up because the government was concerned that consumers would become confused by a proliferation of similar schemes across the web.
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