Who do the Distance Selling Regulations (Consumer Protection ((Distance Selling)) Regulations) apply to?
The Regulations apply only to transactions between consumers and businesses. Any transactions between businesses will not fall under the regulations.
How do the Uk’s Distance Selling Regulations Affect my business?
The Distance Selling Regulations which came into force in the year 2000 were introduced to protect consumers when purchasing goods in a situation which prevents them from inspecting the goods. Any such arrangement is considered to be a contract from a distance which disadvantages the consumer as they cannot inspect the goods before buying them.
The relevant protected methods are when consumers will be protected are when buying goods from the television, through the internet or through leaflets given out, letters, catalogues, through telephone which may or may not involve human interaction and fax or email.
What do the Regulations expect from a business?
The Regulations expect consumers to receive clear information about the goods they are buying in order to make an informed choice before purchase. The consumer must receive confirmation of their purchase in writing. Businesses must offer a cancellation period of 7 working days allowing them to withdraw from the contract.
What are the necessary features of the written confirmation?
Naturally the confirmation must be made in some form of writing. The consumer must be provided with confirmation of the sale and the relevant details such as a description of the goods, price and estimate of days taking before and after dispatch. If such details are not provided the distance contract will not be enforceable. This information could feature in the acknowledgment mail or in the terms and conditions made after the consumer has placed the order.
Does the consumer have a right to cancel the goods once the order has been made?
Yes. The Regulations specify a “cooling off period” where the consumer can cancel their contract at any time within 7 days of the order having been placed.
When does the consumer not have the right to cancel?
The exceptions to the of consumer being able to cancel the contract during the 7 day cooling period will depend on fluctuations in the financial market as this cannot be controlled by the supplier. If the goods expire or deteriorate quickly the 7 day cooling off period will not apply.
Are there any types of transactions which are exempt from the regulations?
The regulations do not apply to most contracts relating to the transfer or land or buildings. Contracts for financial services are not covered, nor are contracts arranged through public pay phones.
When are refunds necessary and how do I go about giving them?
If the contract has been legitimately cancelled any sum which the consumer has paid (including delivery costs) must be refunded within 30 days of the cancellation.
It is possible for you to reach an agreement on a revised date with the consumer. However if a date is not decided you must inform the consumer and repay any due sum.
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