One In 10 eBay Consumer Complaints Are Scam-Related, Says Citizens Advice

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One in six complaints regarding services or products listed on Gumtree – as well as one in 10 concerning eBay sales – are either a scam or a possible scam, revealed research from Citizens Advice.

“These sites are an important service for buyers and sellers, but con artists are profiting from them too,” explained Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy. “Scammers are swindling people out of hundreds or thousands of pounds by posting false products and services online.”

According to data collated by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, auction scams and online retail were the most common activities of fraud reported in 2013 – costing UK shoppers a staggering £63.6 million.

Examining 649 problem instances on Gumtree and 3,711 cases on eBay, one particular scam that was frequently reported involved motorists purchasing second-hand vehicles – only to find a logbook loan attached; resulting in the lender taking the car as a result of the previous owner failing to keep up with repayments.

Another popular complaint saw people purchasing items they never receive – but it appears that businesses are also falling victims to scams, after being contacted by companies promising them cheap advertising only for it to be a con.

Ms Guy added: “It’s time for online marketplaces to up their game and do more to protect their customers from dodgy dealings by strongly policing their websites, carrying out spot checks and immediately removing any risky ads.”

Citizens Advice has called for a change in legislation to prevent logbook lenders from taking away vehicles if they are not the original borrower.

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eBay And Argos Extend Joint Click And Collect Venture

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Argos has extended its click and collect partnership with eBay to all business sellers – enabling customers to collect products from “a much wider range of eBay merchants” direct from Argos shops.

eBay announced: “Following a successful operational trial, agreement has been reached for the extension of the collection service in order to build and test the proposition on a commercial basis. This extension will enable shoppers to pick up millions of products sold by eligible business sellers from over 650 Argos stores throughout Great Britain”.

When the joint venture first went live in September, customers were able to collect products from 50 eBay merchants across 150 Argos stores. Speaking about the new service, Home Retail group chief executive John Walden (who was Argos managing director during the time of the launch), spoke of the potential partnership opportunities that could arise as a result of this venture.

Walden said: “We think the unique capability that Argos has is distribution and store collection may become more and more relevant. There might be a model where Argos could provide these unique capabilities to others, traditional and online in the marketplace and that’s the purpose of the trial.

“Rather than stores being a disadvantage, we believe our small, efficient stores are a strategic advantage.”

eBay will be releasing further details to eligible sellers in the next couple of months, but hope that by the end of the year an estimated 65,000 eBay sellers will offer products for collection at Argos – increasing to 80,000 in 2015.

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One In Three UK Online Businesses Fail To Offer Customers Next Day Delivery

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One in three (36 per cent) of the nation’s online retailers do not offer their customers the option of next day delivery despite 46 per cent of UK consumers ranking this as their preferred choice, according to recent findings.

A study – conducted by Ampersand Commerce – into the various delivery solutions offered by the UK’s top 100 online retailers in May 2014 recommended that companies should focus their efforts into prioritising next day delivery as opposed to click and collect. The 46 per cent surveyed in YouGov research said that if they had been offered the choice of click and collect, same day delivery and next day delivery, they would choose the next day delivery service over the other options – with 21 per cent preferring same day, while 18 per cent were happiest with click and collect.

The findings also noted that 44 per cent of UK consumers would not want to pay any extra costs for next day delivery, while 42 per cent said the most they would pay would be £5. Meanwhile, the results showed that 22 per cent of online retailers fail to offer free returns, 60 per cent provide click and collect, 64 per cent offer next day delivery, 11 per cent offer same day delivery while 91 per cent of adults had had packages shipped direct to their home.

Darryl Adie, managing director at Ampersand Commerce, said: “How online retailers optimise their delivery service will become a key differentiator in the next 12 months. Market leaders are already changing the definition of what next day means by offering later and later cut off times. The consumer demand and expectation for same day delivery is coming and online retailers who streamline their next day delivery now will be best placed to compete in that space.”

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Online Shopping and Bargain Business To Overtake Supermarkets By April 2019

Rivals 'reduce Tesco market share'

Sales from discount retailers, convenience shops and online businesses will surpass hypermarkets and supermarkets by April 2019, according to data compiled by global food and consumer goods group, IGD.

The ‘big four’ supermarkets – comprised by Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – will experience a drop in sales by four per cent; from this year’s £73.7bn to £70.8bn over the next five years compared to sales from bargain businesses (such as Lidl and Aldi) who are expected to make double over the same period. IGD has predicted that by 2019, discount shops will enjoy a 10.5 per cent share of the food market.

In addition, online sales will increase by 119 per cent while convenience shop sales will rise by a third.

This is reflected in research collated by customer science organisation, dunnhumby, after the body found that the number of shopping trips people made rose 18 per cent over the past five years as consumers discard the idea of doing one big ‘weekly shop’ and instead choose to make frequent, small basket purchases.

“People are now more willing to shop around at different types of grocery formats, such as convenience stores, discounters or buying online. They have more options available to them than ever before,” explained Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD.

“Shoppers now expect grocery retailing to organise itself around their lives rather than building their routines around store opening hours. They expect to buy whatever they want, anytime, anyplace, in the most convenient way to them.”

Denney-Finch said that a “rethink” was needed on how supermarket space is utilised – as well as investing more heavily into the shopping experience, namely through the use of technology.

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eBay Issues Lifetime Ban For Artist Who Sold Fake Paintings

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An eBay user who sold artwork on the online auction marketplace, allegedly claiming them as authentic masterpieces by artists such as Mary Fedden and LS Lowry, has been given a lifetime ban by the site.

Geoffrey Spilman, from Rugby, Warwickshire, had been selling hundreds of fake paintings via eBay over the past two years – despite being arrested by police 18 months ago as well as being given a caution for forging artwork by Ashley Jackson; after the artist complained to his local fraud team.

During the course of his crime spree, Mr Spilman had auctioned off approximately 280 fake paintings – selling nearly all of them.

One piece of artwork, claimed to have been painted by British artist Mary Fedden, was sold by an eBay seller with the handle ‘walledgarden2013’.

Titled ‘Moonlight Still Life-Dated 1989’, walledgarden2013 detailed the listings as: “This is one of a number of artworks belonging to my late father which I am parting with. I have no receipt or other history and in keeping with the rules of the site I’m selling after the artist.”

This eBay advert was sent by The Sunday Telegraph to the Portland Gallery – the group responsible for looking after the Mary Fedden estate.

However, Mr Spilman told a photographer (working on behalf of The Sunday Telegraph) that he had not undertaken any illegal activity – saying that his artwork was not sold as the artist, but as the manner of the artist.

An eBay representative explained: “We have reviewed three accounts and determined that the seller has not lived up to the high standards we expect.”

eBay’s guidelines state that sellers should ensure their items are genuine before listing them on the site. Should a seller fail to verify the authenticity of an item, eBay cannot approve its listing.

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Mobile Payment Technology Failing To Catch On With UK Businesses

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Small businesses across the UK are failing to adopt mobile point-of-sale (POS) tools even though there is an increasing awareness about the technology, noted a study.

A questionnaire assessing the technology of over a thousand micro-businesses (companies whose workforce ranges from one to nine workers) found that only two per cent used MPOS technology – where instead of using the standard fixed point-of-sale terminal, businesses can accept card payments via smartphones.

Yet while many businesses are aware of this service, a variety of issues contributing to its slow uptake were highlighted, including the duration of both traditional POS and existing MPOS systems to process payments – with one in ten stating that they had missed sales due to not having the specialist payment functionality.

The results, from payment solution firm Kalixa, were released 18 months after iZettle launched the first ever UK MPOS. Kalixa’s pay as you go service – with doesn’t involve a monthly contract or annual fees – charges 1.99 per cent card fees for each transaction: enabling businesses to access and undertake purchases across their settled funds through the use of a prepaid MasterCard.

“Micro-businesses are missing sales and face delayed settlement, with many citing current payment technology as the culprit and mobile as part of the solution. Yet market adoption simply isn’t there,” explained Colin Swain, head of product, innovation and insight at Kalixa Group.

“We listened to what small businesses needed and have launched a unique service proposition that addresses these needs,” he added. “We’re focused on helping to solve the cash flow challenge and provide merchants with an integrated service that takes care of all their payment needs – whether it’s making or accepting payments via mobile, online or on the high street.”

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Amazon To Install Lockers For Online Shoppers In London’s Tube Stations

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After the recent news that Amazon would be working in conjunction with Network Rail as part of the Doddle ‘click-and-collect’ service, the online retailer has announced that it will be trialling a locker scheme in London Underground car parks.

Delivering packages to a network of lockers, it is hoped that this move will simplify logistics – allowing people to collect their items either on their way to or from work.

The plan is for the lockers to be built into car parks at Newbury Park and Finchley Central; adding to the existing 300 UK locations – such as supermarkets and universities – where Amazon currently offers this service.

Following the delivery of your parcel to your allocated Amazon Locker, you’ll receive an  email notification detailing your unique code. Upon arrival to collect your package, input the code or alternatively, scan the barcode via the barcode scanner. Any parcel delivered to Amazon locker sites must be collected within three business days.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “London Underground’s click and collect revolution is going from strength to strength, attracting some of the most recognisable names in retail.

“Amazon is a fantastic addition to a cast of top brands who are reaching out to their customers in new ways and enabling TfL to generate vital revenue for improvements to our transport network.”

Commercial development director at Transport for London, Graeme Craig, said: “Our click and collect partnerships have been extremely successful and we look forward to bringing more of the services our customers want to our network.”

He stated that the joint venture with Amazon was only a small part of a much bigger project – with the aim being to generate £3.5bn over the new few years through the use of click and collect solutions, pop-up shops as well as new retailing concepts.

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Amazon Delivery Drones Face Ban From FAA

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Imagine a world where our packages could be delivered to us via Amazon drones – well unfortunately the dream envisioned by the online retailer will have to remain an imagination, after running into a few difficulties regarding the Federal Aviation Administration.

In a document seeking public comment involving drone policy – a “Notice of Interpretation with Request for Comment” – the FAA refers to the act of “delivering packages to people for a fee” a non-hobby or recreation-based drone activity; resulting in the group wanting to ban drones.

This detail is clarified further, stating: “If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose.”

However, Amazon does not appear to be worried by this move. According to Paul Misener, Vice President of Global Public Policy for Amazon, this “has no effect on our plans. This is about hobbyists and model aircrafts, not Amazon.”

New York lawyer, Brendan Schulman, told tech news site Ars Technica that the new guidelines were designed to prevent drones from being commercially used.

“It’s a purported new legal basis telling people to stop operating model aircraft for business purposes,” he explained.

In the US, determining drone legality is complicated – as according to the FAA, only amateurs and those with specialist FAA approval (something known as a Certificate of Authority) are granted legal permission to fly drones; though this issue has previously faced serious contention.

Until then, Amazon will just have to wait and see what FAA’s ruling will be on the use of commercial drones.

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McDonald’s Trials Smartphone Ordering App

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Want your fast food to be even faster? Then McDonald’s may have the solution – with the company testing out a mobile app that allows customers to place their orders in advance.

Called “McD Ordering,” the app is currently being trialled across 22 locations in Columbus, Georgia.

To use the service, customers simply link their credit or debit card to the app, with the card charged when the customer scans a QR code at a McDonald’s branch. The order number flashes up on the app, the customer proceeds to collect the food – but all without having to queue up and speak with a cashier.

The app details that food can either be collected direct from the counter, or delivered curbside.

While McDonald’s has used these kind of apps abroad previously, this will be the first smartphone ordering and paying app of its kind in the US.

Other businesses – such as Starbucks – have already enlisted the use of mobile payment apps before. More recently, Chick-fil-A and Tim Hortons have joined this initiative.

In addition, McDonald’s currently has an app that’s in trial mode – though this is strictly for coupons and loyalty schemes (plus the “McD App” isn’t being tested in the same location as the McD Ordering app).

A top executive at McDonald’s – who isn’t authorised to speak about the app in public – stated that the company is more interested in improving the customer experience as opposed to encouraging customers to carry out purchases via their mobiles.

The representative added that McDonald’s can benefit from the data collected by the app and use it as constructive feedback. Should the mobile ordering app also integrate coupons, the executive said that the company can see what foods customers order when they redeem coupons – helping McDonald’s create enhanced target ads.

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Amazon To Join Railway Station ‘Click And Collect’ Scheme

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Following the recent news that Network Rail would be launching an innovative online shopping ‘click and collect’ initiative, hot on the heels to join the likes of ASOS and New Look includes Amazon – after it was announced that the retailer had agreed to partner up with Doddle.

A joint venture between Lloyd Dorfman and Network Rail, it’s been reported that Amazon will begin its operations with Doddle in September.

When asked if this service would be of interest to retailers who had yet to launch their own click and collect solutions, Dorfman said Amazon was the “most convincing customer we’ve come to an agreement with”.

In addition, sellers who ship products with Amazon FBA will automatically have their items ready for collection at railway stations – without having to adapt their way of selling. Amazon sellers from France, Germany, the US as well as other locations across the world will also benefit from being able to provide pick up services at train stations.

The pilot scheme is currently underway at Milton Keynes station, with plans to further the operations to 300 click and collect points at British train stations over the next three years – with an expected price tag of around £24 million.

Fran Waite, a spokesman for Amazon in the UK, has not yet commented on this move.

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