If you sell online then you are legally bound to follow the Distance Selling Regulations – DSR. These have been in operation since 2000 but on June 13 2014 they are being standardised across Europe. Those businesses that are already compliant will still need to review the information they provide pre-contract and also extended returns periods. We highlight the key points for you before the deadline.
The changes are quite extensive and also relate to offline sales and downloadable services which we don’t cover here. For a full list of the changes please visit the Trading Standards website here.
The risks of not being compliant include:
Here are the key areas:
You must include information about any delivery restrictions and means of payment.
The pre-contract information must be forwarded, in a “durable medium” once the customer has purchased the goods.
A durable medium is now defined as:
â€œpaper or email, or any other medium that â€“ (a) allows information to be addressed personally to the recipient, (b) enables the recipient to store the information in a way accessible for future reference for a period that is long enough for the purposes of the information, and (c) allows the unchanged reproduction of the information storedâ€.
This has been interpreted to mean that emails are considered to be a durable medium. However, links within the email to the internet are not.
The cooling off period is now extended to 14 calendar days where consumers are entitled to change their minds, cancel the contract and change their minds, regardless of whether the product is defective.
Retailers are obliged to provide a refund within 14 days of returning the goods or from providing proof of postage, whichever is sooner.
Retailers have a right to make deductions for unreasonable handling or use of goods prior to return.
Only standard delivery charges need to be refunded in the event of a cancellation and that any premium element, e.g. for next day delivery, does need to be refunded.
Consumers must be given certain information about their cancellation rights, and a “model cancellation form” must be available, although suppliers, may, in addition continue to provide their own cancellation forms.
Consumers are not bound by charges they have not expressly agreed to. Pre-ticked boxed will not bind a consumer.
Premium rate telephone lines must not be used for customer help lines.
As you can see, although the requirements are not particularly punitive, a review of the information you provide your customer’s pre and post contact is very important as without the necessary detail you may be left at risk.
The most concise and complete document, that we have found, that details the changes, has been published by the Trading Standards Institute and can be downloaded here.
If you have any questions, We’re happy to help where we can, but the finer detail should be clarified with a legal professional.