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E-commerce policies and customer privacy: a longitudinal study (2000-2010)

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Purpose ‐ The present research is an updated and expanded continuation of an article by Parayitam et al. from 2008. The purpose of this study is to examine several internet policies and whether the communication of these policies to the customer has significantly changed during a ten year period. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study defines published policies of how a company operates with respect to different factors. The policies examined are privacy, security, shipping, returns, and warranty. Each of the policies described above were then rated as per the rating scale defined by the authors. The 525 e-commerce sites studied were divided into service and product sites, respectively. The e-commerce sites were also separated into 28 industry groups. The data were also collected on some of the other factors that were important in this study. Findings ‐ E-commerce companies do not fully inform their customers. The results showed no significant relationships between the policy ratings and any of the other factors taken into account. Research limitations/implications ‐ The net incomes collected were the companies' entire income, not exclusively from online sales. The present study used an unbalanced sample size consisting of more product sites than service sites. Practical implications ‐ People doing business over internet with e-commerce companies need to read the privacy policy carefully and should be aware of how their information will be used by the e-commerce companies. Originality/value ‐ The study provides valuable information about e-commerce companies in communicating their customer service policies and very little changes have taken place in the last ten year period.
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Keywords: Computer privacy; Consumer protection; Electronic commerce; Internet policies; Privacy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 13, 2012

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