April 22, 2002, 12:00 AM

A consumer group’s web site aims to improve online credibility

Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine and operates ConsumerReports.org, will launch a web site tomorrow that focuses on helping online retailers, marketers and other online companies establish credibility with consumers.

Yonkers, NY-based Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine and operates ConsumerReports.org, will launch a web site tomorrow that focuses on helping online retailers, marketers and other online companies establish credibility with consumers. Timed to coincide with the launch, Consumers Union released the details of a research project, called Consumer WebWatch, that shows that less than 30% of consumers polled trust the information they find on sites that sell products and services.

Other findings shows that consumers feel web sites should be more forthcoming about fees, content, security and privacy: --80% of respondents said it is very important to be able to trust the information on a web site; --50% said advertising should be clearly labeled and distinguishable from news and other information; --95% said it is very important that sites disclose all fees; --93% said it is very important that sites disclose how they will protect credit card information. The study is based on 1,500 phone interviews conducted between Dec. 20 and Jan. 7 with Internet users age 18 and over.

The web site’s guidelines were developed with those consumer concerns in mind. "Consumer WebWatch will encourage sites to be more transparent about the financial interests behind the content they publish, and provide tools to help consumers feel more confident about using the web," Beau Brendler, director of Consumer WebWatch, said. Consumer WebWatch lists five major guidelines, including identity, advertising and sponsorships, customer service, corrections and privacy.

 

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