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Consumer Contract Regulations Change for Retailers

From June 13th 2014, the new Consumer Contracts Regulations will apply to all purchases made at distance for any e-commerce businesses active in EEA. Implementation may, however vary and businesses should therefore seek legal advice as to the potential, specific effects of national law.

The main changes are summarised below:

  • Consumer Cancellation Period: 14 calendar days in respect to both goods and services. For goods the period starts on the day of receipt.
  • Exemptions to Cancellation Rights: There are certain exemptions to the cancellation rights including contracts for bespoke and customised goods, goods sealed for health or hygiene reasons that have been unsealed and goods that deteriorate rapidly.
  • Consumer Cancellation Deadline and Information: If consumers are not informed of their right to a 14 calendar day withdrawal period before taking out a contract, the period will be extended to one year and 14 calendar days. If the required information is provided after contracting, the deadline for withdrawal will expire 14 calendar days after the day the information was provided to the consumer.
  • Refund Timing: Businesses must refund all payments made by the customer no later than 14 days from receipt of unwanted goods or proof of return, whichever is earlier.
  • Refund Charges: Businesses are required only to refund the cost of the least expensive type of outbound standard delivery, even if express delivery was used. Businesses can avoid covering the inbound cost of returning the goods by informing the consumer that they will be responsible for these costs at time of purchase.
  • Delivery Deadline: Goods should be delivered without undue delay and within 30 calendar days of the contract being entered into/purchase made.
  • Price Transparency: All payments require the consumer’s active and explicit consent. This means businesses have to label an order button with “order with obligation to pay” or a similar, unambiguous phrase; pre-ticked boxes and other default options for additional goods or services to be paid for by the consumer will not be lawful. This rule also applies where payment is deferred for a period, e.g., until after a free trial period has expired.
  • Consumer Helplines: All consumer helplines for assistance with purchases must be charged at no more than a basic rate. This means they must cost no more than making a standard phone call to a landline or mobile number; premium rate numbers are not permitted.
  • Pre-Contractual Information: Information in relation to the main characteristics of the purchase, the total price (including delivery and any other charges) and how to cancel the order must be displayed clearly and prominently and made available before the consumer purchases any goods or services.
  • Record of Contract: Confirmation of a contract must be supplied to the consumer via a durable medium, such as e-mail, text, letter, in a personal account or on a CD or DVD. Sending an e-mail to an e-mail address provided by the consumer would fulfil this requirement.

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