[b:c98b907095]Online auction traders flout the law[/b:c98b907095]

Parallel importers are using online auctions to sell their products and many side-step their legal responsibilities, says Consumer magazine. In an article published this month looking at Online auctions and the law, Consumer says some traders selling popular products like iPods, digital cameras, watches and radar detectors mislead customers about their rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

"These internet traders are retailers and have to honour their obligations under the Fair Trading and the Consumer Guarantees Acts," says Consumer investigative writer Martin Craig.

"But some are trying to fob-off the duty to repair or replace defective products on to manufacturers' agents, even though the law is unequivocal. When a trader sells at a fixed price, the trader's responsible for putting right defects."

Mr Craig says the definition of a trader is very broad. "It doesn't matter that you've kept your day job and are doing a spot of parallel importing on the side. If you are trading on the web and selling at a fixed price, you will be caught by the Act." "Consumers buying parallel imported goods need to know that very often manufacturers' guarantees will be worthless. If something goes wrong their first line of redress is the online trader they bought from" said Mr Craig.