How do the changes in the Distance Selling Regulations affect your business?

The latest changes to the Distance Selling Regulations in the UK came into force in June 2014. These changes mean online businesses will have to reconsider their terms and conditions as they may need to make changes to the content of their websites and their terms of business. The Regulations impact upon online businesses and those who contract outside of the seller’s business premises. 

What are the changes? 

There has been a shift towards increased transparency between the business selling the goods and the consumer who purchases. The total costs of the product or service must be made clear with full disclosure of any additional fees or charges. If any hidden costs are not explained fully, the consumer may not need to pay these charges. Pre-ticked boxes are prohibited so additional extras must be actively opted in to and made clear for the consumer. Credit Card charges must show the exact cost to the business and any telephone numbers given for support or sales enquiries must be charged at the standard rate.

Returns Policy

Under the new Regulations, consumers now have the option to return items within 14 days of receiving the goods, rather than 7 days. This right of return is known as the ‘cooling off period’. If important information about the product or service or the consumer’s cancellation rights are not clearly displayed, the cooling off period could be extended by up to one year. The period allowed for refunding the customer’s purchase has also changed from 30 days to 14 days and starts from the date of notice of cancellation and the cost of the original delivery must be included within the refund. If a selling business wants the customer to pay for the cost of returning the item, this must be clearly stated in advance of the purchase and they may need to provide an estimate of this cost for the return of larger items.

What should be done?

Businesses need to review their online practices, terms and conditions and ‘user experience’ to ensure that they are compliant with the new Regulations. If a business fails to provide customers with the right information at the appropriate stages during their online purchase they may be forced to accept returns up to a year after purchasing and could be left exposed to additional claims.

If you are looking for commercial solicitors in Bristol to bring your business is up-to-date with the new Regulations, give our commercial team a call on 0117 962 1205.

This article is provided for general information purposes only and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at the date of uploading. This article should not be relied upon as legal advice pertaining to any specific factual situation. Legal decisions should be made only after proper consultation with a legal professional of your choosing.

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