New Regulations came into force on 13 June 2014 to protect the rights of consumers. It is important that if you deal with consumers that you fully understand what their rights are and what your obligations are.
It is particularly important if you sell online to make sure that you do not fall foul of the new Regulations by using out of date terms of sale and website information.
The ‘cooling off period’ is now extended to 14 calendar days and all suppliers must make sure that they advise the consumer of their rights to cancel. If the supplier fails to do so the ‘cooling off period’ is extended to 12 months.
The Supplier must provide a model cancellation form for consumers to use, however consumers do not actually have to use this form to cancel the agreement. Once cancelled any ancillary contracts will also be cancelled automatically including, for example, any warranties.
Consumers ordering personalised goods or custom made items do not have the benefit of the ‘cooling off period’.
Once a consumer cancels a contract they must return the item to the seller and, within 14 days of receiving the returned item, the seller has to refund the consumer. This includes any delivery charges paid. If the supplier does not want to pay for the postage for the return of items the supplier must make sure that it tells the consumer this before the consumer enters into the contract. If the Supplier tries to tell consumers after the contract has been entered into the Supplier will end up paying the postage costs of the return package.
There are some distinctions made when entering into contracts made ‘off premises’ (contracts made not in the premises of the seller). Failing to advise of the right to cancel when selling off-premises remains a criminal offence.
It is also vital that Suppliers make it clear to consumers at what point they are entering into a binding contract. It is suggested that the checkout button be highlighted with ‘Pay Now’ to make it clear that this is the point where consumers are expected to pay for the goods and where the contract is formed.
After the contract is created a copy of the contract and its applicable terms must be made available to the consumer. It must be in a form which allows the consumer to save it, whether in paper or electronic form. This cannot be merely a link to the website unless it is an account on the website personal to that consumer.
The consumer must be provided with the sellers address, any guarantees or warranties with the product, the complaints procedure, the total price and a Freephone or standard rate contact number (not a premium rate telephone number).
Delivery must be within 30 days unless it has been agreed otherwise between the parties.
The burden of proof is on the Supplier to prove that he has complied with the Regulations and provided the information required by law to the consumer. It is therefore vital that you keep accurate and complete records.
If you are a Supplier we would recommend that you check all of your terms and your website to make sure that you comply with the requirements of the new Regulations or, alternatively, contact Cathy Cook by telephone on 01924 387110 or email email@example.com who can tailor your terms to ensure you comply with the Regulations.