E-businesses could face £11bn bill

The EU Directive on Information Society Services will force online retailers to provide extra information to consumers before they make a purchase. This includes an address, phone number, the company’s registered address and VAT number.

But a survey of 600 British businesses, carried out by Interactive Media in Retail Group and law firm Olswang, found the cost for large companies to make the changes will be £180,000, and is expected to take about 10 weeks.

The UK’s 1.9 million small and medium sized firms collectively will need to spend Pounds 4.5bn to comply.

The changes are also likely to hit companies that sell online over mobile phones and digital TV, as they will find it almost impossible to deliver the extra information through those channels, says the survey.

The directive becomes law throughout European countries on 17 January, but each country can decide what penalties to impose for those businesses that fail to comply.

And with the DTI now examining responses to the consultation period, which ended last week, Olswang is urging the government not to harm online trading in the UK by being too harsh.

‘These regulations will burden retailers with more red tape without actually providing much meaningful protection for the consumer,’ said Clive Gringras, ecommerce partner at Olswang.

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