Not many people are aware of a customer’s legal “cooling off” rights. This has nothing to do with plunging them into a pool of icy water or having to take a walk around the block after losing their temper! It is more about the cold feeling that comes over an internet shopper when the eagerly awaited item arrives and it is nothing like the picture or what they were expecting. A bit like the time when I ordered what I thought was a lovely looking skirt from the Scottish Highlands. Upon its arrival, I happily put it on for a quick ‘cat walk’ before a panel of teenage offspring. One look at their faces along with stifled giggles and mutterings of “blanket with legs” reminded me that I too had cooling off rights! SO what are these rights?
In an attempt to encourage consumers to make purchases over the internet, the law makers decided it would be a good idea to give them the right to change their mind. This gave rise to the Distance Selling Regulations which kick in automatically no matter what your terms and conditions say. Here is a snapshot of the cancellation rights in particular:
- consumer customers have 7 working days starting from the day after the goods arrive to change their mind and return the goods to the supplier;
- in the case of contracts for services, consumers have seven days from the day after the contract was concluded to cancel the contract. It is always an option to say to the customer that they can start receiving the services right away, but they must waive their cancellation rights
- the customer must tell the business in writing during that time that they wish to do so;
- the business must refund the cost of the goods and the initial postage to the customer within 30 days AND if the business has not expressly said so in its terms, the business has to pay for the return postage too
- businesses must tell customers of this cancellation right before the contract is concluded- it is no good keeping quiet and hoping that the 7 days will pass unnoticed
- there are exceptions to these rules, notably for perishable goods, customised orders made specifically for a customer, audio and downloadable products and CD’s once opened , newspapers and magazines
The Regulations require businesses to take many other steps and these will be covered in another article. Remember too that these Regulations started as a European directive and so will have been implemented across Europe. This means that if you allow consumer customers from abroad to buy your products, they too have automatic rights to cancel, with possibly more time to do so. So it is best to expressly limit sales to UK customers unless you are sure of the foreign law.
If you are worried your terms of sale do not comply with the Regulations, there are always the Terms of Online Sale available in our ‘oven ready’ document shop…