Shop4Tek: non-delivery of orders and failure to provide refunds

Office of Fair Trading (OFT) closed consumer enforcement case.

Case information

Case Reference: CRE-E-25297

Investigation into an online retailer relating to non-delivery of orders and failure to provide refunds

Complainant:OFT own-initiative investigation

Investigation against: Mr Pavan Arora, t/a Shop4Tek.com, ESave2day.com PriceBustersUK.com; Arora Tech Limited

Issue: Non-delivery of goods and failure to provide refunds

Relevant instrument(s): Enterprise Act 2002, Breach of Contract, Sale of Goods Act 1979, Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, Distance Selling Regulations 2000, The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002.

Summary

On 13 May 2011 the OFT obtained an enforcement order against the operator of a website who failed to supply goods or refunds in a timely fashion, in breach of UK consumer protection legislation.

Having become aware that these undertakings may have been breached, the OFT has issued proceedings against the operator of the websites. If the OFT action is successful the court may make an enforcement order against the website operator, which may require him to cease or otherwise discontinue breaches of relevant laws.

This investigation was opened by the OFT on its own-initiative following over 80 complaints received by Cardiff Trading Standards about the trading practices of the website Shop4tek.com. At the relevant time, this website retailed a variety of computer software and hardware and other electronic goods. The operator of this website subsequently launched, through Arora Tech Limited, the websites ESave2day.com and PriceBustersUK.com.

The OFT considered that on the evidence before it, which included consumer complaints and also test purchases carried out by both the OFT and Cardiff Trading Standards, the operator of these websites had persistently failed to supply goods or to provide a refund after payment had been taken, or to allow cancellation rights to be validly exercised.

In light of this, the OFT identified a number of breaches of consumer protection legislation likely to harm the collective interests of consumers, including the following:

  • Failure to supply goods in accordance with Regulation 19(1) of the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 (the 'DSRs'), which state that, in the absence of an agreement to the contrary, a distance contract shall be performed within 30 days beginning with the day after the day the consumer submits an order

  • Failure to comply with consumers' requests to cancel the contracts, following cancellation in accordance with Regulation 10 of the DSRs

  • Failure to make available a means of rapid contact with consumers in a direct and effective manner, as required by Regulation 6(1)(c) of The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, and

  • Engaging in misleading actions in respect of the availability of the product to be purchased and also the delivery of the product in accordance with advertised delivery timescales, contrary to Regulation 3(4)(a) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

As required under the Enterprise Act 2002, the OFT engaged in consultation with the operator of these websites, to ensure that the identified infringements are not continued or repeated. Following this consultation the operator of these websites signed undertakings to comply with the law. This includes an undertaking to refund the affected consumers and ensure that future orders are delivered on time.

Upon becoming aware that these undertakings had been breached, the OFT issued proceedings against the operator of the websites. As a result of these proceedings, Cardiff County Court issued an enforcement order against the website operator, which requires him, amongst other things, to pay back any consumers who have not been refunded or otherwise be in contempt of court.

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