A huge portion of internet retailers are violating selling regulations according to SafeBuy, an e-commerce watchdog, which has led to the ombudsman to describe the trading practices as "something of a wild west".
Research from Safebuy found that, in total, a shocking 25% - 16,250 - of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) were found to be flouting legal requirements for online trading.
Breaking it down, the study discovered that 7% did not advise customers of their legal right of return before their purchase should they change their mind after ordering, whilst 6% failed to provide a physical address where they conduct their business from – another requirement.
One fifth of online retailers didn't publish an email address where they could be contacted. The law on this matter states that "... the details of the service provider, including his electronic mail address, which makes it possible to contact him rapidly... must be displayed".
"There are an estimated 65,000 UK online retailing sites that are not yet accredited by SafeBuy. Extrapolating the research findings could mean some 16,250 of those websites are not complying with the law," said SafeBuy CEO Richard Jones.
"One highly unacceptable finding of the research was the number of websites which attempt to prevent consumers from being aware of their legal rights. A significant number of websites went to shocking lengths to prevent consumers exercising their legal right of return.
"We knew that there were 'dodgy traders' out there but this number of online retailers breaking the law is patently unacceptable. What we now need is 'People Power' based on consumers educating themselves on their rights and taking retailers to task," Jones said.