Does your online shop comply with all legal requirements?

FOD economie logoEven though an increasing number of online shops comply with legal obligations, two out of three web stores are still not up-to-date (64.8 %). Should consumers worry? And what should you do in order to have your online shop pass inspection by FPS Economy?

Upon reading that two out of three Belgian web stores are infringing FPS Economy’s law, users will probably start to worry: is online shopping really safe? This title surely isn’t devoid of sensationalism and panic-mongering, because the infringements that have been observed generally do not concern unfair trading practices, but rather administrative requirements.

Here are some numbers: of the 451 websites that were checked by the FPS Economy in 2012, 292 did not comply with the law, which represents 64.8%. You can, however, take the term ‘infringement’ with a pinch of salt, because in 47.45% of cases, a simple mistake or negligence was involved: at least one piece of the mandatory contact information was missing. The law indeed states that a web shop must mention the name, address and e-mail address of the company and its registration number on its website. Many online stores nevertheless still make the mistake of not mentioning all this information in full and only offer a contact form for the user to contact the web store.

Moreover, the FPS Economy also observed infringements related to the price indication (22.83%), lack of clarity on VAT matters (10.2%), delivery and shipping costs (18.2%) and other taxes like Recupel (1.13%).

Do you want to spruce up your web shop so that it can pass an inspection by the FPS Economy with flying colours? Then follow the advice below and clearly state on your website:

  • The name, address and e-mail address of your company and its registration number
  • The total cost of a product or service
  • If this price is includes VAT or not and which percentage applies
  • The delivery and shipping costs
  • If other taxes like e.g. Recupel are included in the price or not
  • If the customer has a right of withdrawal

This last element is very important. Internet sales indeed are subject to “distance selling” rules and a customer has a right to cancel his order within a 14-day period. However, exceptions may apply, like e.g. when booking trips and tickets, when purchasing perishable goods or tailored products, etc. A clear overview of the exceptions to the right of withdrawal can be found on the website of the FPS Economy. Check if your website is among those exceptions and if so, clearly mention that on your site, possibly with a link to this page.

Also, do make sure that you do not tick the paying options boxes by default, because they might be considered opt-out elements, while the law requires that paying options are opt-in elements (meaning that users have to explicitly tick the box themselves).

Here you go. Now, you can confidently wait for a visit of the web store police!