Many sites missing labels
When Ethical Consumer looked at the seven largest online retailers for electrical appliances between 19th and 22nd January 2018 – Currys, Argos, Amazon, John Lewis, Euronics, Hughes Electrics and AO.com – it found that none of them appeared to be consistently complying with EU rules.
Amazon, Hughes Electrical and Argos all listed products for which neither energy label nor ‘nested arrow’ could be found. No energy labels were found at all on the Hughes Electrical website, though it did have its own comparisons for energy costs.
Examples were found on all seven websites, in which a product was displayed with an energy rating, but no energy label.  Rules were flouted particularly frequently in the cases of cookers and fridges.
Where Amazon did provide an energy label, in product images, these were sometimes found to have been reformatted. Important information like actual energy consumption and water use was lost, despite stipulations that labels must not be modified by retailers. Instances were also found in which Amazon provided two different figures for the ‘energy usage’ of a product.
Not a new issue
It seems that this is a long-running issue. In 2016, MarketWatch found that only a quarter of white goods sold online in the UK were correctly labelled. Half had no energy information at all.
Energy labels are often not displayed on the manufacturers’ websites since they are only a legal obligation at the point of sale. This is why it is important for retailers to make sure they give consumers the facts. This situation is clearly not acceptable. Online sellers need to be clearly showing all the energy efficiency information that bricks-and-mortar sellers are required to show.
The rules on online labelling need to be enforced but resources for consumer protection bodies have been cut both nationally (Consumer Direct closed in 2012) and locally (Trading Standards Offices).
Only buying from sites where labels are properly displayed is another way to campaign for change. Amazon and Hughes Electrical appeared to be the worst offenders.
We contacted the companies following the research for their comment.
Amazon told us 'All Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action including potential removal of their account. The products in question are no longer available.'
Our response: we checked the product pages highlighted in the original research, and found that these had been removed from Amazon’s website since we informed them of the problem. However, we found several other pages which still did not comply with EU law, including some products which were said to be 'Dispatched from and sold by Amazon'.
AO.com told us "we take the EU rules around energy labelling very seriously. Following this research, we have reviewed our process and will ensure that the small number of products that didn’t comply now follow the regulations."
Our response: we checked the product page highlighted in the original research, and found that the energy label was still unavailable, although an additional data sheet had been added to the product page. Further examples where AO.com had failed to comply with EU law remained unchanged.
Argos: “we’ve looked into it and the examples you have shared are no longer available from Argos. All our current product pages highlight the energy rating and we’re working to ensure the energy label is always displayed in a compliant way.
Our response: We checked the product pages highlighted in the original research, and found that these had been removed from Argos’ website since we informed them of the problem. However, we found several other pages where Argos had still not complied with EU law.
John Lewis: “Whilst the vast majority of our products are in line with the energy labelling regulations, we have recognised that a small number of products do not the display the energy label and we are therefore addressing this as an urgent priority.”
Our response: we checked the product pages highlighted in the original research, and found that these had been removed from John Lewis’ website since we informed them of the problem. However, we found several other pages where John Lewis had still not complied with EU law.
Curry's, Euronics and Hughes Electrical all failed respond to our questions.