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
- 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.