By Julie Nixon
If you sell goods or services online, via mail order or over the phone to consumers you should already be aware of the Distance Selling Regulations and how they affect your terms and conditions and ordering process. New changes to the distance selling rules have taken effect from June of this year through the implementation of the new Consumer Contracts Regulations. These changes will apply to all contracts concluded on or after the 13th June.
If a sale is made at a distance, then in addition to existing information requirements the following information must now also be supplied:
- When buying digital content, the compatibility of the digital content with hardware and other software must be given by the seller.
- Where cancellation rights exist, the seller now needs to provide a cancellation form as set out in Schedule 3 to the regulations.
- The seller must be absolutely clear where there is an obligation to pay, such as a “pay now” button.
- Schedule 2 of the regulations sets out what information must be provided to the consumer before concluding the contract and this information must be provided on a durable medium such as an email.
- Where cancellation rights exist, a consumer may cancel any order from the moment the order is placed until 14 days after the order is received by the consumer.
- Where a right to cancel a service exists, a consumer may cancel the service at any time during the 14 day period after the contract for the service is concluded.
- The consumer should receive a refund within 14 days of the seller having received the returned goods, or the consumer providing evidence of having returned the goods.
- Sellers have to refund the basic cost of delivery of the goods.
- There is a cancellation exemption for goods that are sealed and are not suitable for return due to hygiene reasons, and for services where the seller has set aside a specific capacity for the consumer, so should the consumer cancel the seller would have difficulty with a resale (such as venue hire on specific dates for example).
- Sellers can make a deduction from a refund where the goods have been devalued by handling which is beyond that acceptable for goods displayed in a store.
- A seller should not supply digital content within the 14 day cancellation period unless the consumer has given express permission for the supply. The consumer must acknowledge that once the download starts they will lose their right to cancel.
No additional payments as a default option
- Sellers mustobtain the express consent of the consumer for all payments; pre-ticked boxes are no longer available.
- Consumers will not be liable for costs they have previously not been informed of.
- Where a seller operates a customer helpline, the helpline cannot charge a “premium” rate
Delivery of goods
- The seller must deliver the goods within any agreed time frame.
- Where no time frame has been agreed, delivery of the goods should be within 30 days.
In summary, if you are an online retailer you should review your T&Cs, order screens and order confirmation emails to make sure you are providing all the information required under the new regulations at the appropriate stage of the transaction. As a note of caution, the cancellation period can be extended to one year where a seller fails to provide the correct pre-contractual information! If you have any questions meanwhile please contact Andy or I.