Consumer issues arising from online marketplaces and the supply chain are the focus of a new inquiry launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Consumer Protection with the support of CTSI.
The inquiry, which coincides with the recent publication of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, comes in light of growing concerns about the safety, reliability and standards of goods available to UK consumers online.
CTSI experts have expressed concerns to the APPG about unsafe products including electrical items, toys and cosmetics. Organisations including Which?, Electrical Safety First, The British Toy and Hobby Association, National Trading Standards and OPSS will also be giving evidence to the inquiry, which aims to better understand some of the problems associated with online marketplaces and their supply chains. These include risks to consumers, enforcement at ports and borders, the role of fulfilment houses and opportunities to improve regulation.
John Herriman, Chief Executive of CTSI said: “Online marketplaces have revolutionised shopping habits for UK consumers – with the click of a button consumers can order goods to arrive at their homes the very next day. However, the legislation protecting consumers has not kept pace with these changes and while the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill may address some of these concerns, we want to fully understand nationally what many Trading Standards teams are reporting locally.
“There is currently a vacuum when it comes to laws that third-party sellers need to adhere to when listing items for sale on online marketplaces. There are also concerns that imported goods are not meeting the standards for the UK market – vapes being a recent example of this. Part of this national inquiry will be looking at what needs to happen to protect consumers and ensure our supply chains are robust.
“Although Trading Standards is doing its utmost to protect the public from unsafe good, we remain concerned about the increased levels of risk from the flooding of unsafe goods on UK marketplaces, and the potential for this to deteriorate further if resources are not increased to carry out adequate checks at our ports and borders to intercept these dangerous good at the point of entry.”
Yvonne Fovargue MP, Chair of the APPG on Consumer Protection, said: “Online scams have become increasingly sophisticated and hard-to-spot while the cost-of-living crisis has made customers ever more susceptible to being taken for a ride. It’s a dangerous combination that calls for a fresh approach to consumer protection. I am confident that our inquiry will help in that search.”