The "European Online Marketplace, Consumer Complaints 2010-2011" report says that despite the number of issues faced by consumers the experience is that online shopping is increasing and developing.
Adam Mortimer, consumer adviser at the UK European Consumer Centre, said: “Shopping online in the internal market offers consumers incredible choice, value and access to an enormous 24-hour marketplace from the comfort of their homes.
“Consumers are often concerned about whether their rights will be respected if something goes wrong in another country and as a result lack confidence in cross-border online trade. But consumers should not be confused by or hesitant about cross-border shopping. E-commerce is the way to shop in the future. Consumers should be prepared to explore the possibilities and gain the advantage of cross-border shopping. With some caution and common sense, the main issues and traps can be avoided.”
The highest number of cases are reported in France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but perhaps not surprising as these countries represent the largest e-commerce markets in the EU with the most e-commerce transactions.
The report highlights payment security, non-delivery, lack of dispute resolution mechanisms and fraud are still the main obstacles preventing consumers and businesses from engaging more in e-commerce, especially cross-border.
Adam added: “We believe, however, that these causes of concern are progressively receding, thanks to the combined impact of better legislation, more adapted technological tools to secure payments, more diligent internet traders and more vigilant consumers.”
Practical do’s and don’ts
The report also provides checklists for both consumers and traders . By using checklists with practical advice, ECC-Net recommends consumers to:
- know who you are dealing with
- pay safely
- avoid scams
- understand your commitment ie what you're signing up to and the financial impact.
In addition, the UK ECC has produced its own online shopping booklet .
UK consumers in disputes with traders based in another EU country can contact the UK ECC where advisers will assist in resolving complaints. Consumers can make contact with the UK European Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 08456 04 05 03 weekdays between 10am and 3pm.