Does your website comply with the new consumer contract regulations?
Changes to the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 came into force on 13 June 2014
The new regulations have implications for most businesses that sell to consumers:
- by distance contracts (such as online, mail-order, over the phone)
- off-premises (away from the trader’s premises including the consumer’s home)
- on-premises in the case of non-day to day transactions (such as in a shop)
Certain types of contracts are outside the scope of the new regulations including contracts for banking, residential letting, construction of new buildings as well as insurance and credit services. Others are partially exempt such as passenger transport contracts.
The new regulations will replace the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 and the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work Regulations 2008 (Doorstep Regulations)
Why is the new law being introduced?
The new regulations are required in the UK to implement the Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU.
How will the new laws affect businesses?
The key changes include:
A model cancellation form
There is an obligation to make the model form available to consumers in both distance and off-premises contracts. The consumer does not have to use the form to cancel but it must be made available. An online retailer will need to make the model cancellation form available on its website.
Extended cancellation period
An extension of the current cancellation period to 14 calendar days for distance and off-premises sales. Consumers will not have a right to cancel once a digital content download has started as long as they have given their express consent to the download starting before the end of the 14-day cancellation period and an acknowledgment that the right to cancel will then be lost.
The cancellation period will be extended by 12 months if the trader fails to provide the information about the conditions, time limits and procedures for exercising the cancellation right.
Refunds for cancellations must be made within 14-days of receipt of the goods. Traders will have a right to reduce the refund to reflect any loss in value where the goods have been used or handled ‘beyond the sort of handling that might reasonably be allowed in a shop’.
There is an obligation to label any online order button with the words ‘order with obligation to pay’ or similar wording.
There is also a prohibition on certain practices, such as the use of pre-tick boxes for payment of additional services and the use of premium rate customer telephone helplines.
Heads of information
Traders will be required to clearly provide up to eleven heads of information to consumers for many on-premises sales. The heads of information are set out in Schedule 1 of the new regulations.
Traditional bricks and mortar retailers carrying out non-day to day transactions will have to provide information that includes the main characteristics of the goods, full identity of the retailer and details of any complaints handling policy.
For more information contact Tebbitts & Co on 01270 211567