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Online marketplaces

Online marketplaces

e-Marketplaces are websites on which many different retailers sell goods to consumers.  Examples are the Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Etsy.  The retailers must comply with the same range of consumer laws that apply to businesses selling from their own websites and the e-marketplace operator also has legal obligations. 

Additionally, the retailer must comply with the e-marketplace’s terms and conditions to be allowed to continue trading on the website.  These terms often include provisions relating to parcel delivery that ensure fairness to buyers, such as limitations on surcharges.  If an online consumer encounters any of the problems described in Examples 1 and 2 above when dealing with an e-marketplace seller, in addition to the legal rights and options, they can also report the seller to the e-marketplace operator for breach of the website’s terms and conditions.  This may result in the retailer being removed from the site. Further information.


Example 3


Multi-seller e-marketplace

A consumer from Northern Ireland visits an online multi-seller site www.abc-marketplace.com and buys an electric shaver from XYZ Electrical Ltd for £80 plus £5.95 delivery, which is a UK-wide standard rate as required by the e-marketplace’s terms and buying process.  The next day the consumer receives a phone call from XYZ Electrical to say that as he lives in Northern Ireland he must pay an extra £20 for delivery.

Consumer Rights

Consumer has right to receive the goods for payment of £85.95, or to cancel the purchase.

What can the consumer do?
  • Pursue a claim for fulfillment of the deal as agreed, OR
  • Refuse to pay and abandon the purchase, AND/OR
  • Report XYZ Electrical to abc-marketplace.com for breach of the seller terms, using the violation reporting function on the website, AND/OR
  • Report the matter to Trading Standards