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Consumers call for 'shaming' of second-rate dotcoms

Autobytel is calling on the Government and fellow dotcom operations to investigate and improve trading standards compliance after research showed that the majority of consumers favour a 'get tough' approach, with rogue web traders fined or 'named and shamed'.

Results from a national online opinion poll, conducted by Autobytel, has revealed that despite that with 60% of the UK online, concerns about standards on the net have reached unprecedented levels.

A survey of 3,000 online shoppers revealed that 90% want a hard-line taken on enforcing trading standards, with rogue online traders fined and/or 'named and shamed'. 81% were concerned about giving their credit card or personal details online. Late deliveries (51%), the lack of clear refund policies (46%), money back guarantees (19%), price misquotes (14%) and a lack of understanding of the terms and conditions given prior to purchase (10%) were also cited as areas of concern.

More worryingly 73% had no idea where to turn for advice. Only 5% knew about the internet self-regulatory standards body, Trust UK.

When asked what they wanted the Government to do to address their concerns, respondents wanted a clear out from the net of closed e-traders, the provision of cheaper internet access, policing of the web for misleading ads and unsolicited junk email and providing more secure payment options other than credit cars.

In response to its findings, Autobytel has reviewed its site (www.autobytel.co.uk) and made changes in order to comply with web certification with Trust UK and Which? Webtrader; developed a customer charter which it hopes other online retailers will adopt; is working with the consumer directorate at the DTI to host an industry 'call to action' forum and has gained the support and endorsement of Government ministers, most notably Andrew Pinder, Government 'e-envoy', and the DTI.

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