Investigation into an online retailer relating to non-delivery of orders and erroneous contact details
Complainant: OFT own-initiative investigation
Issue: Non-delivery of goods, potential non-existence of goods; false contact details
Relevant instruments: Enterprise Act 2002, Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
On 8 February 2011, the OFT requested an internet service provider to take down a number of websites that the OFT believed breached UK consumer protection legislation.
This investigation was opened by the OFT on its own initiative following complaints to Consumer Direct and online consumer message boards. The sites in question purported to sell electronic goods, but consumers complained that when they attempted to make a purchase their credit or debit card was declined. In some cases, money was subsequently transferred from the consumer's bank account. The OFT believes that the contact details provided on these websites were also either made up or taken from people whose card details had been stolen.
The OFT investigated a number of concerns and potential breaches of consumer protection legislation likely to harm the collective interests of consumers, including the following:
Providing false information relating to the existence or nature of products advertised, and the nature of the sales process, in a way that is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise, in breach of Regulation 5 of the Consumer Protection Regulations (CPRs).
Omitting material information relating to the identity and geographical address of the trader, in breach of Regulation 6 of the CPRs.