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Non-delivery of goods 'biggest problem' for online shoppers

GOODS not turning up is the number one problem for consumers buying online.

A new report has found that problems with online purchases are the biggest cause of complaint to European Consumer Centre (ECC) offices in Ireland and across Europe.

Irish consumers reported issues such as a trader refusing to repair a faulty camera, or a "free" perfume sample turning into a monthly bill for €80 because of unclear terms and conditions when signing up.

The ECC network received more than 60,000 complaints relating to e-commerce between 2010 and 2011.

Delivery problems accounted for 38pc of these while a third of cases involved problems with the actual good or service purchased.

Online fraud, scams and misleading sales tactics were also a problem for consumers making purchases online, according to the report 'The European Online Marketplace: Consumer Complaints 2010-2011'.

Ireland was in the top 10 countries both for consumers making complaints and for traders about whom complaints were received.

One consumer here signed up to get a free perfume sample from a pop-up internet ad, but then began getting a monthly bill for €80, as she had not been clearly informed that she needed to inform the company within 30 days if she wished to stop receiving these products.

Another Irish customer purchased a camera from a French trader, who refused to provide any remedy when it turned out to be faulty even though they were legally obliged to do so.

"The report shows that consumers are consistently facing the same problems when shopping online and this needs to be addressed," said Anna Heryan of ECC Ireland.

The EU's new Consumer Rights Directive should boost consumer confidence in making internet purchases, she said.

The report noted that cross-border online purchases were actually highly reliable in most cases as a previous survey had found delivery problems in only 5pc of cases compared with 6pc for domestic purchases.

Irish Independent