Can a webshop be trusted or is it best avoided? ConsuWijzer’s Online ShopScan facility helps consumers to judge trustworthiness of webshops.
In order to assist consumers in judging the trustworthiness of online shops, ConsuWijzer - the government information desk that gives consumers practical advice about their rights - has developed the Online ShopScan facility. By answering a limited number of questions about the webshop, the consumer is able to make a swift judgement of the company that runs the webshop whilst he or she is shopping online. Consumers are then able to determine themselves whether or not to deal with this company.
Over the next four weeks, ConsuWijzer will be running a campaign to raise awareness amongst consumers of their rights when making purchases online. Pauline Bijlenga, the Head of ConsuWijzer explains: “Consumers are increasingly opting for the convenience of online shopping and usually experiences are positive. However, sometimes consumers are unsure of how trustworthy the provider is and this ShopScan facility offers them a basis on which they can make a judgement before they buy”.
Increasing numbers of consumers are choosing to purchase goods online. The internet offers an accessible, easy-to-use and flexible way of shopping. In most cases consumers are satisfied and they receive what they have ordered on time. If the product does not meet a consumer’s expectations, he or she usually has the right to return the item within the cooling-off period of seven working days without stating reasons for doing so. But it does not always work so well and in such cases, a bargain can turn into a costly purchase. Unfortunately that only comes to light afterwards, when it is too late. The Online ShopScan facility helps consumers to assess the trustworthiness of the company that runs the webshop before the purchase. It can be opened in a separate window whilst shopping online and depending on the number of positive or negative answers, consumers are able to determine whether they deem the webshop to be trustworthy or to be best avoided.
Reports to ConsuWijzer
The content of the Online ShopScan facility is based on the queries and complaints that ConsuWijzer receives with regard to online shopping. The following issues, apart from complaints regarding guarantees, are ones that crop up specifically in relation to online shopping:
- The product has not been delivered but has been paid for
- The customer wishes to return the purchase within the cooling-off period, but the webshop will not accept it
- The product has been returned within the cooling-off period but the money is not refunded.
Consumers can find specific information regarding their rights when making purchases online at www.consuwijzer.nl. The campaign will also focus upon the following points:
- What is the situation with regard to paying a deposit or paying for the item?
- I returned the product within the cooling-off period. How much should I be refunded? Should I be satisfied to receive a voucher?
- When should the webshop state additional costs, such as for postage and packaging and administration?
- I ordered and paid for a product four weeks ago. The product should have been delivered within a week but I have not yet received anything. What can I do?
- Am I also entitled to a guarantee if I have purchased something online?
Unfair online commercial practices forms one of the areas of focus on the Consumer Authority’s Agenda for 2011 and it is able to take actions against companies that violate the regulations. This campaign is in keeping with the context of ‘Fraud Prevention Month’, an initiative of the international network of consumer enforcement authorities ICPEN, in order to draw the attention of consumers to misleading practices. The Consumer Authority currently holds the position of chair of this network.
Financial product fraud
At the same time ConsuWijzer’s campaign is running, the Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) is drawing consumers’ attention to the risks associated with purchasing financial products and services over the internet. A checklist is available on their website that consumers can use to ascertain whether or not they are dealing with a trustworthy provider.
ShopScan for internet entrepreneurs
The Tax and Customs Administration and the Consumer Authority have developed a simple test to allow entrepreneurs to check whether their website complies with the regulations. For further information, visit the webiste of the Tax and Customs Administration.