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Online sellers criticised over energy labels

Most electrical goods purchased online have either the wrong energy label or no label at all, according to new data.

A three-year survey from MarketWatch, a group of civil society organisations, across 11 European countries found that 20 per cent of online goods had no label, one per cent had the wrong label, and 35 per cent were displayed in outdated or inaccessible forms.

By law, product energy performance labels for dishwashers, ovens and refrigerators must be displayed as prominently on a website as they are in shops.

The report suggested that up to 10 per cent of Europe’s expected energy savings by 2020 could be lost as a result of non-compliant products.

Alun Jones, a researcher for the report, said: “Energy labels could save households €465 (around £359) on their energy bills each year but, with increasing numbers of consumers buying and researching their products online, the widespread mislabelling and no-labelling of products could lead many to miss out on their share of savings.”

Three-quarters of Britons now buy goods online, with more than a third shopping on the internet for electrical home appliances.

According to the MarketWatch report, only a quarter of these were labelled correctly and half had no information at all.

It found that range hood extractors were the worst labelled British product, with 74 per cent receiving an inaccurate description. This was followed by 32 per cent of TVs, 20 per cent of washer-dryers and 18 per cent of dishwashers.

On the high street, 49 per cent of home appliances were found to be labelled incorrectly. In this, small retailers, independent shops and kitchen stores were found to be the poor performers, but websites emerged as “by far the biggest area of concern,” according to Mr Jones.

Angeliki Malizou, an energy expert for the European consumers organisation BEUC, said: “This study comes as no surprise. Consumer groups have repeatedly flagged problems with labels incorrectly displayed on websites.

“Online shopping is becoming consumers’ daily bread. That’s why it is key that information on energy consumption and efficiency is easily accessible before purchase. EU states need to step up their efforts to ensure that traders play by the rules in the online world.”

The results of the report, which surveyed more than 150,000 products retailing in 151 brick-and-mortar stores and 118 online retailers, will be shared with the national market surveillance authorities.

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