Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Ethics of e-commerce

Ethics of e-commerce


When it comes to e-commerce we have to talk about ethics, so what do we need to look at, we need to look at such things as what are you not allowed to sell, how do you treat your customers and what do you do with data about customers generated by transactions


The first one of these is easy, when it comes to what you are not allowed to sell on the Internet; In a nutshell you are not allowed to sell anything that breaks the law of the country you are in, for example you are not allowed to sell drugs, weapons, and anything that is seen to be wrong by a descent world, such as it would be wrong to sell body parts, weapons etc.


Ebay.com is very good in this area as it vets the goods that people sell on its service, however they sometimes make mistakes.


Another thing we need to look at is if you have a real store already, can you shut that store to adopt a slim lined cheaper e-commerce site, the answer in my option is no, as this is a unethical practice as you are creating more unemployment in an already saturated jobs market, but there is no reason why you can’t start an totally e-commerce like Amazon have done.


The next thing we need to look at, if you are an E-commerce company is you have to follow the government guidelines or regulations about e-commerce, there are three of these regulations and are what follows:-
  • The Data Protection Act 1998
  • The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
  • The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002
  • The Data Protection Act 1998
If any size company collects information about people, in particularly personnel information such as credit card number, address, name, telephone number etc, you must follow the data protection guidelines
  1. You must say what the data is for and why you collect it (this you must stick to).
  2. You must register your data collection system with the information commission,
  3. You should not the give the information about people to anyone else without permission
  4. You must keep information safe using passwords etc.
  5. You must show information stored about a person to the subject of that data and delete it, if told to by the subject of the data
The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000


This applies if you are selling online or by telephone, and is about Business Transactions.


The Guidelines of is act is as follows:-


Information given must be very easy to follow and include all information, you must declare all costs about VAT and freight charges, so the customer knows what’s what before making transaction and you must declare all costs.


You have to contact the customer when order has come in, advising the customer that order has been received.


You must given some time to the customer, sometimes called “cooling off period” and usually a week to enable the customer to cancel the order and you must tell the customer their rights to cancel at time of transaction, and you must offer a free returns service.


The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002


This is sometimes called the “e-commerce Directive”, this applies to all web based companies either selling to other companies or to general customers.


This acts states the following:-


You must put your real contact information such as address Telephone number and email on the Website, not just a PO Box Number.


You should display your VAT registration number, if you are V.A.T (value added tax) registered


And like the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 you must provide clear information about price, tax, and delivery changes, plus show clear information about terms, conditions and rights about the order.


Also like the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 you must tell the customer that you have received the order.


So why these acts, the acts are designed to protect customer’s rights so they don’t get ripped off when buying things online.


So why do companies have to follow these acts, it’s the law; companies have to look after customers and not rip them off.


further reading


E-commerce law
[Internet]
Published by Clickdocs between 2000 - 2004

Data protection act
[Internet]
Published by Crown in 1998


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