The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published new regulations on consumer contracts which are intended to harmonise distance selling and off-premises sales rules across the EU. The Regulations will apply to consumer contracts entered into on or after 13 June 2014 and replace existing legislation on distance selling and cancellation of consumer contracts. They include model instructions for cancellation and a model form of cancellation for consumers.
Key changes are as follows:
For distance and off-premises contracts, such as online sales, traders must:
inform consumers prior to the sale if they are responsible for the cost of returning goods in the ‘cooling off’ period
offer an extended ‘cooling off’ period from 7 to 14 days, which extends to 12 months where the customer has not been made aware of the timeframe
only provide a refund once goods are returned or proof of postage received
only continue to use pre-ticked boxes on websites for free products or services
scrap premium rate telephone helplines – a customer must not be charged more than the standard rate when seeking help on a purchase
For non day to day in-store contracts, such as major purchases, traders must provide their address, telephone number, complaints policy and other information where it is not evident from the store location or other circumstances
For all retailers, whether in-store or on-line, the regulations will most likely mean that existing terms and conditions and current practices will need to be updated to fall in line with the new requirements.