The rise of the internet in recent years has made distance selling more popular than ever. It is for this reason that the Government has introduced the new Consumer Contract Regulations as a means to ensure that the rights of the consumer are protected at all times.
The Consumer Contracts Regulations came into force on 13th June 2014 and have represented a significant change in the way ‘distance selling’ can be conducted. Despite not necessarily being familiar with the term, ‘distance selling’ is a process all consumers will probably undertake at some point or another. Any good or service bought through a website, over the phone, mail order or on a TV shopping channel is classified as ‘distance selling’ and effectively comprises of any purchase made at a distance.
The Regulations have brought about a number of changes to the laws governing ‘distance selling’. Traders must now, for instance, provide more detailed prescribed information before the consumer concludes the contract. In addition, prescribed cancellation forms must be provided to each consumer before the purchase is complete.
The rights of the consumer have also been promoted through the extension of cooling off periods for distance selling. The previous law stated that cooling off periods last seven business days from the date of the contract. This has now been extended to 14 days from the date of the contract for services, and 14 days from the date of delivery for goods.
The primary change however is that websites now have to be much clearer specifying when a consumer must make payment. In order to avoid uncertainty, websites will have to replace ambiguities such as ‘register’ or ‘subscribe’ with clearer wording such as ‘payment’. Furthermore, websites can no longer include optional extras as a default, and consumers must be expressly notified before any add-ons are included in a purchase.
For more information on your consumer rights, feel free to give us call on 01536 276300.