Following a recent report by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) which highlighted that more than one third of the UK's top online retailers could be breaking e-commerce and distance selling laws, Rebecca Kelly, associate at hlw Keeble Hawson - one of Yorkshire’s largest law firms with offices in Leeds, Sheffield and Doncaster - has the following tips on how retailers can avoid falling foul of the law.
An increase in the number of online purchases is expected in the countdown to the festive season. Therefore staying on the right side of the law and ensuring compliance with regulations - including the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 (DSRs) and the Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 - is more critical than ever. Stay on the right side of the law by following the steps below:
Review your online sales processes - including your terms and conditions - prior to the Christmas online rush. This can be completed quickly and easily at a relatively low cost.
Make consumers aware early in the transaction process of any additional charges which may be added to their order such as card payment charges, booking fees and other taxes or duties.
Ensure that goods are delivered within 30 days and shoppers are given a 7-day cooling-off period (longer for financial products) during which they can cancel an order and get a full refund.
Avoid imposing restrictions or conditions which affect the consumer’s right to cancel their order and receive a refund. These include requiring customers to return goods in their original packaging, original condition or in a resaleable condition. This cuts across a consumer’s right to have a reasonable opportunity to inspect and assess the products they have purchased.
Where you are obliged to provide a full refund to a customer, ensure that refund includes the costs you charged the customer for delivering their goods.
Provide consumers with adequate contact information. This should be an email address and/or web contact form, although an email address together with a postal address and contact telephone number is the preferred contact information.
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