Retail briefs: regional Net use, online shopping

Retail briefs: regional Net use, online shopping

Old MacDonald had a

. . . Net connection?

Regional retailers and service providers have reason to celebrate, with the ABS's recent findings indicating continuing strong growth in computer use and Internet access in rural and regional Australia. According to the latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), farmers are jumping off their tractors and onto the Web in large numbers. The ABS reported a 91 per cent increase in the number of farmers using the Internet over the 15-month period from June 2000, proving that information technology is quickly becoming part and parcel of life on the land. Sixty per cent of these farms have an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5000 or more, which suggests the agricultural sector is paving the way for increased Internet usage in rural, regional and remote communities. The Federal Government has allocated $1 billion to improve telecommunications in regional areas, which will further fuel the agricultural sector's uptake of enabling technologies.

Consumers still wary about online shoppingShopping via the Web cannot be carried out with confidence as many online retailers fail to deliver quality service, according to a Consumers International study released last week. Researchers at 15 consumer organisations in 14 countries placed a total of 340 orders with online stores around the world. They found that 18 per cent of the online shops didn't give the total cost of the order, 34 per cent didn't detail the delivery area, 39 per cent of the orders didn't arrive within the time quoted and 6 per cent didn't turn up at all. The goods were returned by Consumers International after delivery. Only 33 per cent of the products came with return instructions. In 17 per cent of cases, it took more than 30 days for a refund to be credited, and in 9 per cent of cases the researchers are still waiting for credit. Consumers International is calling for governments to strengthen legislation and guidelines for consumer protection.

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