Retailers breaking the law by failing to comply with new regulations

If you sell over the internet, telephone or away from your trading premises, then you need to be aware of changes introduced on 13 June 2014 by the The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. If your selling practices do not yet comply, then your contracts may be unenforceable, and in some instances may lead to criminal prosecution.

Although certain types of contracts are excluded from the changes such as those relating to banking, residential lettings, insurance, pension, and credit services, the key changes to retailers are essentially as follows:

  • Any online order button should be marked with the words ‘order with obligation to pay’ or some similar wording e.g. ‘Pay Now’, ‘Buy Now’
  • Customers will now have a period of 14 calendar days to change their minds and cancel their agreement. The cancellation period is extended by 12 months in certain circumstances
  • Refunds for cancellation must be made within 14 days of receipt of the goods, although scope is now allowed for a reduction in the amount of the refund where the item appears to have been used
  • The regulations require specific information to be given to the customer in certain circumstances, failing which the customer may not be bound by the contract
  • You will need to make available a model cancellation form, although there will be no obligation on the customer to use it
  • If you provide a customer services helpline for a customer to contact you on, they cannot be charged more than the basic rate for the telephone call (Government guidance defines the basic rate as not charging more than it would cost to ‘call a friend or relative’).

Craig Oliver is a Company Commercial Solicitor at Stokes Partners LLP and can assist your business in establishing whether the goods and services you supply are caught by the new regulations.  If they are, then he can review the regulations with you to make sure your business complies with each requirement.

Craig can be contacted on 01460 279293 or by email at [email protected] for further information.