Consumer Contract Regulations – What Businesses Need To Know

Does your business supply the huge demand for online shopping?

E-commerce sales are growing at the rate of more than 19 percent every year, but if your business supplies items bought online, at a distance or away from your trading premises (at the buyer’s home or at work, for example) then you need to be aware of recent legislation.

The Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 came into effect on 13 June 2014. It applies to the businesses and traders outlined above. It replaces the Distance Selling Regulations, the Sale of Goods Act, the Supply of Goods and Services Act and Doorstep Selling Regulations, and it obliges traders to give consumers certain information.


Information Provided

If you are selling goods at a distance (i.e. online) or face-to-face off premises (door to door for example), then the information you need to provide is:

  • The total price of the goods or services (or if that’s not available, then you must tell the consumer the way in which the price will be calculated)
  • The cost of the delivery and information about who will pay for returning items where the consumer has the right to cancel or change their mind
  • Details of any rights to cancel: you also need to provide a standard form to make cancellation easy
  • A description of the good or services (including the length of time any commitment by the consumer will last)
  • Information about you as the seller, which includes your address and phone number
  • Information about compatibility of digital content with hardware and other software

If you do not provide the required information (which should be provided in writing, or orally if the contract is made by phone), then the consumer’s cancellation rights can be extended by up to 12 months.

If you are selling from your premises, you do not have to provide as much information, but you will still need to give buyers information about the goods or services purchased, the price, compatibility of digital content and delivery costs.

Right to Cancel

When it comes to consumers cancelling goods, then the right to cancel starts the moment an order is placed and ends 14 days after the consumer has received the order. For services, the right to cancel starts the moment the buyer enters into the contract and lasts 14 days.

Consumers can only download digital content within the two-week cancellation period by agreeing to waive their cancellation rights, and companies cannot charge buyers for items they have put in their online shopping baskets or items bought because of a pre-ticked box.

Condition of Goods

Goods must be delivered within the timeframe agreed, and the seller is responsible for the condition of the goods until they are received by the seller.

If the customer receives faulty goods and wishes to return them, his or her rights under The Consumer Contracts Regulations are in addition to other legal rights, such as the Sale of Goods Act. And if an item is faulty, then terms and conditions which say the consumer must cover the costs of returning the item do not apply.

Finally, the Consumer Contract Regulations also set limits for helpline phone charges, which must not be higher than basic rate calls if the call concerns products that were purchased. This also applies to energy suppliers, but does not apply to sales calls.

We have summarised the main points of the Consumer Contracts Regulations, but we would advise any business affected by these changes to ensure they fully understand the changes.

Amongst other things, many business will find they need to amend their Standard Terms & Conditions.

To find out more you can visit the following websites:

Or contact us here at Bennett Griffin directly on 01903 229999 and ask to speak to someone in our Commercial Team; we offer a free review of standard Terms & Conditions.