A significant number of internet shopping websites could be in breach of rules set up to protect customers.
Which?, the consumer rights group, has claimed that many online retailers are not complying with the regulations covering distance selling.
One of the most commonly flouted laws, said Which?, concerned the return of unwanted goods.
Under the regulations, consumers have seven working days, after receiving the goods, to cancel the order if they wish. They are also granted a reasonable period of time in which to return the goods.
So long as the order is cancelled in seven days, customers can claim a full refund. The e-retailer cannot charge an administration or re-stocking fee except in those cases where the purchase is cancelled beyond the seven-day period.
Retailers are also obliged to refund any postage and packing fee on the original delivery, although, according to circumstances, they might not have to meet the costs of sending the goods back.
Andrew McClelland of the Internet Media in Retail Group (IMRG) said that, though many sites may be breaking the rules, most are doing so unknowingly.
He said: “A lot of retailers new to the business, whilst not deliberately wanting to break the law, probably don’t understand the requirements of the legislation.”
Online retailers that do not comply with the Distance Selling Regulations could be reported to the Office of Fair Trading