Interview: Fair And Square campaign

Better protection for returning goods

Intrigued with Computeractive’s Fair And Square campaign, TechRadar spoke to Paul Allen, the editor of Computeractive about the magazine’s fight for online rights.

TechRadar: So, how has the campaign gone so far?

Paul Allen: It was only launched today, but we have already had one retailer contact us and say they are rewriting their terms and conditions, making them clearer for buyers which is great.

TR: Are you against online shopping?

PA: Not at all, online shopping is a brilliant, quick and easy way of buying goods, it’s just that we feel there needs to be more enforcement for people after they buy goods online.

The government has recently announced new legislation protecting people purchasing items, but we are focusing on what goes on after purchasing, when you want to send things back or get goods repaired. We need more education about this.

TR: What was the age range of the people polled.

PA: The magazine has a readership of over 200,000 and we polled 3,500. The age range was between 35 to 65.

TR: What would you like to see happen?

PA: We think online retailers have a responsibility and they should make the returning of goods a great deal easier. We are not saying that there is a big conspiracy on the internet about this; it’s more a series of little crimes with various online retailers failing to make it simple for online buyers to contact them when something goes wrong with a product.

TR: How can online retailers do this?

PA: It comes down really to simple things, like putting up postal addresses for the return of goods. Looking at the data we have gathered we found that reputable retailers like the O2 Store and Screwfix have failed to put their postal addresses up on their website. Or if they have, they are so tucked away that it’s impossible for your average buyer to find.

TR: How exactly is Apple contravening the ‘Distance Selling Regulations’?

PA: We are still waiting for a response from the company on this, but Computeractive found that, when it comes to sending stuff back, the company has two tiers of charges of collecting and processing – depending on the price of the product – and this simply isn’t allowed.

The Office of Fair Trading clearly states that the supplier has to give a full refund and cannot make any charge or deduction for restocking or handling.

TR: What would you like to see happen at the end of the campaign?

PA: In the end what we want to happen is simple: we want online retailers to communicate clearly with their customers. At the moment, this just isn’t happening.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.