Do you sell goods or services to consumers via the following channels?:
- over the telephone
- via the internet
- ‘off premises’, e.g. at trade shows or at people’s houses
If the answer is yes then there are changes being brought in from 13 June which will apply to you and your business.
The key general principles of the new Consumer Contracts Regulations are listed below – we have highlighted key points that are of particular relevance:
- You must seek the consumer's express prior consent before taking any additional payments (for example, pre-ticked boxes will not be permitted).
- You must, unless the consumer agrees otherwise, deliver any goods purchased within 30 calendar days.
- You must not make the consumer use a premium rate telephone line to contact the trader about an existing contract.
- You must not impose excessive payment surcharges when consumers pay by certain means, such as credit or debit cards. (This change was in fact made under separate Regulations and has been in force since April 2013.)
- For the first time, a new concept of digital content is introduced into UK law.
In relation to distance selling contracts, these points are of particular interest:
- Extend the list of pre-contract information that you must give to a consumer (there are some differences between distance and off-premises contracts).
- Introduce new rules on the cancellation of contracts for the supply of digital content not on a tangible medium.
- Extend the statutory cancellation period (sometimes known as the cooling-off period) from 7 to 14 calendar days.
- Where a consumer has a right to cancel a contract, require you to provide the consumer with a model cancellation form.
- Extend the cancellation period to, broadly, one year if you fail to provide certain pre-contract information.
- If you sell via an online platform you need to make it clear (for example by labelling the payment button with "Order with obligation to pay"), where proceeding with the transaction will trigger a payment.
- Require a consumer to return goods within 14 calendar days of cancelling the contract.
- Allow you to withhold a refund until the goods are returned (or evidence of their return is provided).
- Allow you to deduct an amount for the diminished value of the goods when refunding payments.
- Extend the list of ancillary contracts which will be automatically terminated on termination of a distance or off-premises contract.
If you think you these changes will affect you we suggest you need to consider the following:
- Change your t&cs
- Change your delivery policy
- Change the way you interact with customers
- Consider your pricing policy
If you have any questions or would like to discuss these changes and how they will affect your business please contact our commercial partner Matthew Hattersley on 0113 336 3351 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.