Off To See My Lawyer
'Oven-Ready' Document Shop Click here to sign up for our latest updates

Posts Tagged ‘Consumer Contracts Regulations’

Information to be provided by website owners- if you don’t, customers don’t have to pay!

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Here is a list of the ‘pre-contract’ information that all website owners who supply goods or services to consumer customers ( as opposed to business customers) have to provide under the new Consumer Contracts Regulations– if not, consumers don’t have to pay for the goods or services supplied or they could have extended cancellation rights!!!

  • the main characteristics of the goods, services or digital content – you must give as much information as the means of communication allows
  •  your identity – such as your trading name

    Do your customers know who you are?

    Do your customers know who you are?

  •  the geographical address where you are established and, where applicable, a telephone number, fax number and email address to allow consumers to be able to contact you quickly and efficiently *
  •  if you are acting on behalf of another trader, their identity and geographical address *
  •  if you, or the trader who you are acting for, have a different address for consumer complaints this must also be given *
  • the total price of the goods, services or digital content inclusive of tax (such as VAT). If this cannot be calculated in advance you must say how this will be calculated
  •  all delivery charges or any other costs – if these cannot be calculated in advance you must state that they are payable
  •  the monthly, or billing period, costs of open-ended contracts or subscriptions
  •  any additional costs for using a specific means of distance communication to make the contract – for example, if you make an extra charge for buying by phone as opposed to online *
  •  the arrangements for payment, delivery or performance and the time that you will take to deliver the goods, perform the services or supply the digital content *
  • if you have one, your complaint-handling policy. Providers of services should have a complaint-handling policy in place as required by the Provision of Services Regulations 2009. In addition TSI approved codes of practice and some trade associations and professional bodies will also require a policy to be in place, which must be made available to consumers *
  • the conditions, time limits and procedure for exercising a right to cancel, if there is one . This information may be provided by correctly filling in and providing the ‘Model instructions for cancellation‘ provided by the Regulations
  •  if you are expecting consumers to pay the costs of returning the goods after cancellation you must tell them, or if the goods cannot normally be returned by post (they are too large, for example) you must advise consumers of the cost of returning them. This information may be provided by correctly filling in and providing the ‘Model instructions for cancellation’ (see link above) *
  • if you are offering a service contract that a consumer can expressly ask you to start within the cancellation period, you must tell him that he will be required to pay you the reasonable costs of the service that you have delivered up to the time of his cancellation within the cancellation period. This information may be provided by correctly filling in and providing the ‘Model instructions for cancellation’ (see link above) *
  •  if there are no cancellation rights for specific goods, services or digital content that you offer or there are circumstances in which consumers will lose their right to cancel you must inform them of this *
  •  if you are selling goods you should remind consumers that the goods you sell must be in conformity with the contract – for example, you might say: ‘It is our responsibility to supply you with goods that meet your consumer rights. If you have any concerns that we have not met our legal obligations please contact us’ *
  •  if you offer any after-sales consumer assistance, services or guarantees you must make consumers aware of this and any applicable conditions *
  •  if you are a member of a code of conduct you must inform consumers how they can obtain a copy of the code – for example, by providing a link to the code sponsor’s website *
  • if the consumer will enter into a contract of a fixed duration, he must be informed what this is. If the contract has no fixed length, or can be extended automatically he must be informed of the conditions

 

*If the means of distance communication that you are using limits the space or the time that is available to provide the information, these items may be provided in a different but appropriate way.

You must give consumers the information listed above in a way that is clear, comprehensible and appropriate to the means of distance communication before they enter into a contract with you. In addition, if you provide this information on a durable medium you must make sure that it is legible.

A ‘durable medium’ is defined as paper, email or other medium that:

  • allows the information to be addressed personally to the recipient
  • enables the recipient to store the information and access it for future reference (this will include you placing the information in your customer’s personal account area of your website, which he can access by logging in)
  • allows unchanged reproduction of this information. SO you can’t just provide a link to terms on your website as you may change them at some point.

If you sell goods online, our template E commerce terms of sale, cover all of the above and come complete with guidance notes and 30 minutes free advice if you get stuck.

 

Calling all on-line sellers: New Consumer Contracts law applies to YOU!

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

From June 2014 new regulations apply to everyone who:

  • sells to consumers ( as opposed to businesses)
  • without meeting face to face e.g. sells online or over the phone ( so- called “Distance Contracts”) or door- to -door ( so-called “off- premises contracts”)

Previously the Distance Selling regulations applied but they have now been overtaken by the Consumer Contracts Regulations which impose a number of additional steps sellers must take otherwise they face criminal charges, shut down orders and bad publicity! The purpose of the law is to provide consumers with more transparency on who they are actually dealing with, what they are buying and alerting them to the fact that they may change their mind once they have clicked on ‘BUY’!

Distance Sales

“If only it were this simple!”

In a nutshell the obligations mean that a trader must:

  1. Provide so-called ‘pre-contract’ information i.e. information about the service or products before the customer is committed to buying the service or products AND
  2. Provide certain information after the contract is concluded

What  ‘pre-contract’ information must be provided?

  • Key information about the identity of the trader and the products and many other things too many to list here
  • If the consumer has a right to cancel, a Model Cancellation Form which must follow the set format specified in the Regulations. The consumer does not have to use it, but the trader must nevertheless provide it!

Note that failure to provide this information is a criminal offence so you need to act now to make sure you comply! There are additional penalties too: your customer’s right to cancel is extended and you will have no right to charge them for the use of the service or products up to the point that they cancel.

When and how must you supply the pre-contract information?

The trader must give the pre-contract information and cancellation form before the consumer is bound by the contract- so in practice any time before they are committed e.g. by clicking on ‘Buy Now’ or other button or if contracting over the phone, any time before they place their order.

The trader can give the pre-contract information and Model Cancellation Form to the consumer by either of the following methods:

  • On paper
  • If the consumer agrees, on another “durable medium” e.g. e-mail

What information must be provided once the contract has been concluded?

The trader must give the consumer one of the following:

    • A copy of the signed contract.
    • Confirmation of the contract.

The copy or confirmation must be provided within a “reasonable time” after the contract is formed, and in any event no later than the time of delivery of any goods or before performance begins of any service.

By what means must you provide the information?

By good old fashioned paper letter or by email. Note that the email must set out the full terms and you cannot simply send an email with a link to your terms. This is because the idea is that there is a record of what has been agreed that cannot be altered at a later date. If you just provide a link, the terms at the end of the link could be altered at some point in the future.

Where do you start????

We know you are a busy entrepreneur and news of these new laws and obligations is probably the last thing you need or have time for, so we have done the work for you.

Just 3 easy steps :

  1. E- mail us for our free questionnaire to see if you comply with new law. It will only take 3 minutes and will reveal if you do or not comply with the new law.
  2. If you don’t comply, turn to our ‘oven ready’ document shop which has brand new template for selling goods and digital products online which complies with new law. It has all of the relevant pre-contract information and model cancellation form.
  3. If you sell services, drop us a line or give us a call so that we can check your terms or provide you with fresh ones.

Alternatively, you can trawl through over 100 pages of the Regulations and work it out for yourself. Enjoy!!

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

Friday, September 5th, 2014

“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.

'Oven-ready' document shop

Always open for business!