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The law for on-line sales has changed. Are your terms up to date?

“Your statutory rights are not affected…” Do you actually know what this means?

As a business owner, you may not be aware that your customers have certain rights by law and even if your terms say otherwise. These are so-called “statutory rights” because they are granted by statute. Usually these overide any other terms you may seek to enforce. Set out below are key provisions in relation to online sales that became law recently. If you do not comply with them, you may have the law knocking at your door…

Consumer Contracts Regulations  2013

These regulations replaced the Distance Selling Regulations  and apply to distance contracts entered into on or after 13 June 2014. Note that the Consumer Contracts Regulations apply only partially to some sector-specific contracts (including for example goods made to the customer’s specification, goods liable to deteriorate or expire rapidly and goods for which the price is dependant on fluctuations in the financial market) and do not apply at all to others (including food and beverages delivered by roundsmen).

SO, if you sell online to consumers you must:

  • provide certain information before your customer enters into a transaction with you ( such as who you are, right to cancel etc) and this must be confirmed on a durable medium, such as an e-mail.
  • make it clear when proceeding with the transaction will trigger a payment (for example by labelling the payment button with “Order with obligation to pay”)
  • get the consumer’s express prior consent before taking any additional payments (for example, pre-ticked boxes will not be permitted).
  • allow consumers to cancel the contract within a cooling off period of 14 days. This period can be extended by up to 12 months if you fail to provide the information. So saying nothing and hoping the 14 days will come and go is not an option!
  • deliver goods within 30 days, unless otherwise agreed with the consumer.
  • not offer a premium rate telephone line to contact you about an existing contract.

Payment Surcharges Regulations

These apply to contracts entered into on or after 6 April 2013 (with some sectoral exclusions from scope). These impose a ban on charging the consumer an excessive fee for using any given means of payment. For example, charging an excessive fee for using a credit card as opposed to a debit card.

If your terms are out of date or you have none (!), then our ‘oven-ready’ document shop has a ready made template that you can use. It comes with comprehensive guidance notes and 30 minutes free advice if you get stuck. See here for more details.

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