Nik's Technology Blog

Travels through programming, networks, and computers

Internet World - eBusiness Legal Tips

It's been a couple of weeks since I attended Internet World at London's Earl Court and the follow-up emails have started to arrive in my inbox where I exchanged business cards with some of the exhibitors.
The show ran for three days, but I only managed to attend on the last day (1st May 2008).

During the exhibition, as well as general networking, I attended several presentations about marketing, social media, search and e-commerce.
One particular presentation by Nigel Miller of Fox Williams LLP was about legal tips for safe selling online.
This topic will bore many developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups because they don't understand or see the importance in legal issues and just want to get their idea/business or product live on the web.
Having seen the potential problems of ignoring legislation first hand, I was particularly interested in what Nigel had to say.

I'm one of those people who tends to read the odd terms and conditions page or End User License Agreement (EULA) and find that the language these documents are written in doesn't make for easy reading or understanding, so I was pleased that this presentation used simple plain English.

The presentation was not an exhaustive list of the all legal rules and regulations a website needs to comply with, but it highlighted the areas that are frequently misunderstood or ignored completely, it focused mainly on UK rules and regulations, such as:

  • Sector specific compliance
  • Web Accessibility compliance
  • Company information which must be on the website
  • Intellectual property and ownership
  • The Data Protection Act (complying with)
  • Terms and conditions and disclaimers
  • Pricing errors
  • Distance selling regulations and consumer rights

Nigel's full presentation entitled "Risky business; legal tips for safe selling online" can be downloaded as a PDF from Fox Williams' ebizlawTM website.

Nigel Miller is a partner at Fox Williams LLP.

Sellers Banned on eBay for Feedback Abuse

BBC Watchdog, a consumer rights TV programme in the UK ran a special report on eBay last night.
The report highlighted issues with how the eBay feedback system has, and is being abused by sellers using the site.

The eBay feedback system is a crucial component of the market place, and gives confidence to buyers when they are about to buy a product. Its in sellers' interests therefore to have a high feedback rating to reassure buyers.

What the programme investigates, is the situation where buyers are forced to remove truthful comments that the seller does not like in order to get product refunds etc.

Essentially, in order to get refunds on products bought through eBay, some traders are asking buyers to retract negative or neutral comments. Some of the sellers even have similar policies written into their eBay shop terms and conditions.

As a result of this programme, some sellers have been banned from selling on eBay, as this clearly undermines the confidence users have in the feedback system, and therefore eBay itself.