I'm thinking about opening an online shop, what do I need to do to protect my business?

There is a significant investment in trading online so it’s prudent to make efficient sales to maximise the return on investment.

Your terms of business are crucially important. This means they need to be clear, enforceable and don’t leave room for things to come back to bite you.

There are legal requirements including:

  • information you need to put on your website;
  • consumer protection legislation (if you are selling to non-business customers);
  • industry specific requirements; and
  • data protection and privacy considerations.

It is also worth remembering that scrutinising a website is easy for regulators such as:

  • Local Authority Regulatory Services (Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Licensing);
  • The Competition and Markets Authority;
  • The Advertising Standards Authority; and
  • The Information Commissioners Office.

If you need any help then please take a look at our solutions  or get in touch to discuss your requirements.

Ebay have refunded a purchaser under Ebays own policy. The trader is another business and we will have to collect the item which we know they have misused. What can we do?

Clearly if you are trading on ebay as your main channel to market you will have to be sensitive to the policies so as to avoid ebay banning you. However if your terms and conditions are robust and bearing in mind that traders do not enjoy the same rights as consumers you could take the view that your customer is in breach of contract i.e. you have supplied goods which they effectively have not paid for. This seems to be a fundamental breach of the contract terms for which they could be pursued through the County Court with all that entails. Just to reiterate you would need to ensure that this was not in contravention of your agreement with ebay and you would need to ensure that your agreement was enforceable.

A friend of mine recently bought a used car from a local dealer and is having problems with the garage.  I just wondered if you could give her any advice regarding her legal position?

As the car was bought in England then could I direct your friend to this information on the Citizens Advice website, there is an algorithm which gets to the nub of the issue and will give the correct advice.

The relevant law is the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

If the garage in question subscribe to the National Concilliation Service ADR scheme then this may be another route that your friend can pursue.

I have an online shop. What happens if I don't tell my customers that they have 14 days to decide if they want to keep the goods I've posted to them?

The law says that in ‘distance sales’ to consumers you have to tell your customers that they have a 14 day cancellation right, what they need to do if they want to cancel and who pays for the return postage.

If you fail to tell them then the period is extended to a maximum of one year and 14 days from the date of delivery. If they do cancel within the year and 14 days then you will have no option but to refund the total cost, including the outbound and return postage costs in full.

If you sell goods or services away from your usual trade premises and you do not tell your customers of their cancellation rights you are also committing a criminal offence for which you could be prosecuted.

I have an online shop which is aimed at the UK marketplace but what happens if someone outside of the UK buys one of the products and in particular where do I stand with returns, postage and faulty goods?

This is a minefield, essentially you should make sure that you are crystal clear about which territories/countries/areas you are going to do business in. Don’t ‘accept’ a customer order from, or enter into a legally binding contract with, someone outside your catchment area.
You should also specify where you will make deliveries, if applicable, and don’t rely on the fact that your website is in English to restrict the sales.
Your terms and conditions of business should be carefully crafted to comply with legal obligations particularly if you are making sales to consumers. Beware the proposed EU rules on geographical discrimination in terms of pricing.
If the buyer is in the EU then you will need to comply with EU consumer legislation with respect to returns etc, however as this is harmonised across the EU as long as you comply with UK law you should be OK.
You may wish to ask us to review and amend your terms and conditions to ensure they are current >read more…

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Sell online legally – Ebay or Etsy or just from your website, do it well and remain within the law



Snipping Red Tape With Crimson Crab

Many thanks to Reputation Advocate, Lorna Jackson from Advance and Get Noticed for organising this feature in etc magazine.

We thoroughly enjoyed our morning discussing business issues with Laura Cartledge and you can read the whole February edition here.


Friday the thirteenth – unlucky for some!

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.

On Friday 13th June, the distance selling regulations 2000 and off-premises (doorstep) regulations 2008 are revoked and these regulations apply instead to consumer contracts.

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 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. 

If you need any help All You Have To Do Is Askalternatively a “Crab Sheet” containing detailed guidance plus information check lists and model forms is available from Crimson Crab. Reputation Academy Members can obtain a free copy.

Are you superstitious?

Friday 13th June could mean disaster if you sell goods, services or digital content to consumers and don’t follow the new rules that come into play. This also applies to on-line sales including ebay, but there are other things to worry about if you have an e business including cyber security and data protection! Crimson Crab are expert at keeping you ethical and legal and know a thing or two about the pitfalls that await the unwary. If you need any help please get in touch.