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Selling online or over the phone - Does your business comply with Consumer Protection regulations?

View profile for Karen Edwards
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The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 were brought into force to protect consumers (meaning an individual, not a business) when they shop online or enter into other contracts at a distance with a supplier.

In these circumstances, the consumer does not have the benefit of meeting face to face with the supplier or inspecting the goods or services offered for sale. The Regulations therefore give consumers (amongst other things) the right to cancel the contract in writing within a period of 7 working days (commonly known as the “cooling off period”).

The supplier is under an obligation to provide the consumer with specific information prior to, and on conclusion of, the contract. The time at which this information is provided determines when the cooling off period begins.

If you are selling goods or providing services to a consumer and you communicate with them without ever coming into face to face contact during the purchase process and the method of sale is of an organised nature (through a call centre or through a website) the Regulations will apply.

Karen Edwards, a Commercial Solicitor, advises “If you sell goods in this way, you should clarify whether the Regulations do apply to your business and also ensure that your terms and conditions clearly set out the consumer’s right to cancel. It is not possible to opt out of the Regulations. Any term in a distance selling contract which is inconsistent with the protection of the consumer will be automatically void and a supplier will not be able to rely on them.”

There are, of course, certain contracts for which no right to cancel applies. To find out if you should comply, or if you have any questions on this topic, please get in touch. For a free initial meeting or conversation, please call 01202 499255 and Karen or a member of her team will be happy to discuss any questions you may have.