Code for e-Commerce Confidence

Keith Newman

Updated · Apr 05, 2001

A new internet shopping code established by the eMarketing Standards Authority is likely to improve confidence and make life safer for on-line shoppers by addressing a number of consumer protection issues.

The code, an initiative of the Direct Marketing Association and the Advertising Standards Authority will have web retailers meeting higher standards of returns and guarantees, and providing privacy safeguards.

Deputy prime minister Jim Anderton, acting as Consumer Affairs Minister in launching the eMarketing Standards Authority code its likely tol engender more faith in the growing e-retailing industry.

The eMSA will require members to abide by the codes and advise customers on how to resolve disputes with any of its members.

“An improvement in standards is essential but the Government cannot do this alone. It requires partnerships and industry involvement,” says Mr Anderton.

“Only three weeks ago I released findings from a survey of internet shopping sites that showed that many New Zealand web retailers were not providing enough information to safeguard consumer rights.”

The move is consistent with the government's e-commerce strategy which sets out to develop consumer confidence by addressing security, privacy and consumer protection concerns.

“New Zealanders judge the performance of government and of the economy based on things like the price and availability of goods, and how well our rights have been safeguarded. This means that regulation and protection for consumers in all areas of commerce is essential,” says Mr Anderton.

The Government's e-commerce strategy sets out to develop consumer confidence by addressing security, privacy and consumer protection concerns. “To do this we need to be prepared to find ways to stop a small number of dodgy dealers who are intent on ripping off other people, whether they are operating out of a car dealers yard, a shop front or on the internet.”

Two weeks ago the Ministry of Consumer Affairs released the results of a sweep of 66 New Zealand web sites as part of an international analysis covering 19 OECD countries.

There was a diverse range of goods being sold by these websites including travel, food, wine, books, CDs, clothes and souvenirs. Mr Anderton says however he is concerned only half the sites had information on returns or refunds. Over a third didn't provide a physical address.

Only half had a privacy policy and a staggering 86 per cent had no protections for children such as a requirement for parent or guardian approval or an age restriction requirement and 17 per cent didn't list the costs of postage and packaging separately, something that most customers would expect.

He says while this is a problem in a country of early adapters and high internet use it is also a problem for sites wanting to gain confidence of consumers here and overseas.

The sweep, says Mr Anderton placed New Zealand somewhere in the middle of the list of countries for good consumer practice and was evidence that local retails should be doing better.

Reprinted from

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