I agree with you whole heartidly. I use to live in the UK so I know the system fairly well.
They are there to protect the consumer. In particular, there needs to be a way for the customer to take legal action against a company in a last resort, and you can't do that if you don't know who you're dealing with.
Sounds good puzzled. There are contracts and agreements, upon receipt they will have your complete details, as well as your VAT no, company registration number and your full address. So this would be sufficient for a client to take legal action against you.
But you need to distinguish between what's legally required and what's good business practice.
Good business practice is keeping your existing customers happy and your business profitably. Existing clients can call on emergencies, prospective and existing clients send emails on other occations. I tend to get calls from people I know, rather than inquiries from unknowns. eBay don't publicly provide their phone number, and neither do PayPal, so what troubles to they run into because of this, if any?
The UK legal system is a little laughable. A country which has so many rules still has one of the highest violations of personal information being sold on a day-to-day basis. When we were over in the UK we had 5 cold calls per day, even after we registered on the no-cold-callers list, some of those cold callers got aggressive and pushy. I think this says it all. There are so many people fishing for information (to screw you over) that you can just do without.
Regarding eBay. I haven't checked, but I'll bet that the various versions of their sites that operate in the EU all have the company information that is required by law (but you might have to hunt hard to find it).
Maybe they have the same problem as I described. The only way I know of to call eBay, which I have in the past, is to open a dispute on a seller using eBay disputes and wait for the seller to respond. If not resolved or responded you can flag it further where they will give you a telephone number to call them considering that request. The eBay account I had was within the UK, so it abides by UK law. They still do not give out a contact number on their website.
Finally, you say "It's your business after all, and how you chose to run it depends on you.". Well, yes ..... but not completely. It also depends on the legal requirements in the countries where you operate.
Legal requirements are defined in contracts. I really don't think the internet police would arrest you for not publicly supplying a telephone number on your site. It's not a crime, and to even say it is would just run into the category of scare mongery. Imagine having a business would did not have a phone number, which only worked online. Would you simply supply a phone number nobody answered just to abide by the law.
But you've got to remember that, first and foremost, you're in business to serve the customer.
Agreed. There are more than one form of communication. I remember when I worked for as an employee for a web design company in the past. We got told only to communicate with emails and avoid calls from problematic clients, as they were scared of being sued. Everything had to be in writing, and email was the preferred choice of communication by the company.
There are times when situations become sticky and when you end up with so many nuisance calls that you fail the see the benefit of profiting a phone number on your website.
Take my comments with a pinch of salt. I know I've raised many opposing views, so it's likely to be challenged.
Hope this helps.
Edit: There are some requirements found here, http://www.seqlegal.com/blog/website-legal-information-basic-requirements, which you can see. These can be displayed on the privacy page. Nothing is mention about telephone numbers. I know you did not specifically mention telephone number, but it's something I needed to be made clear. I actually saw legal advice about this (just in-case) and they clarified it for me.