Consumer Contracts

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013

These rules are relevant for any business that sells goods, services or digital content to a consumer, i.e. an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside their trade, business, craft or profession.

They apply to all sales including those made from a retail premises, those made at a distance (e.g. on-line) and those made away from trade premises.

They apply to contracts concluded on or after 13 June 2014. On this date, the distance selling regulations 2000 and off-premises (doorstep) regulations 2008 were revoked.

They specify the information which must be given before and after making a sale and how it should be given.

  • Certain specified information must be given to consumers and includes for example on what systems or hardware digital content will work with.
  • Schedule 1 lists the information to be provided for on-premises contracts
  • Schedule 2 lists the information to be provided for distance and off-premises contracts
  • Where cancellation rights exist, all distance and off-premises sellers covered by the regulations will need to provide the cancellation form set out in schedule 3 of the regulations
  • The on-line trader will need to make absolutely clear, through for instance a labelled ‘pay now’ button, where there is an obligation to pay

They give consumers the right to change their mind when buying at a distance or off-trade premises. This does not change the rules when goods received are faulty, not fit for purpose or not as described. Where this is the case consumers have different rights which are covered by separate legislation.

  • Cancellation rights apply to off-premises and distance contracts only. The cancellation period is 14 calendar days.
  • Consumers should return items within 14 days of cancellation.
  • On-line and other distance or off-premises traders can withhold refunds until goods are returned (or evidence of return is provided) and they can reduce the amount of money refunded for goods returned which show evidence of use beyond the handling necessary to see whether the goods are as expected.
  • You must make the refund within 14 days of cancellation of a service contract or receipt of goods (or of evidence of the consumer returning them).
  • Where the consumer cancels a contract, any ancillary contract (such as a warranty or credit agreement) is automatically cancelled.

They set out rules on delivery times and passing of risk.

  • Unless the trader and consumer agree otherwise, delivery of goods should be without undue delay and within 30 days.
  • Risk passes from the trader to the consumer when the goods are delivered unless the courier is one not offered or named by the trader as an option, but chosen and arranged by the consumer. In this case risk passes to the consumer when the item is delivered to the courier.

There are prohibitions on additional payments appearing as a default option and on having to pay more than the basic rate for post-contract helplines.

  • You will need the active consent of the consumer for all payments – pre-ticked boxes for additional payments are not permitted.
  • Consumers will not be liable for any costs which they have not been told about, pre-contract.
  • Where you offer a telephone helpline for consumers to contact you about something they have bought, there should be a number available on which the consumer can call for this purpose at no more than the basic rate.

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