Do you use your website to sell to consumers? If so you may be aware of the impending regulation changes affecting your business and more specifically how you sell to consumers online. The Consumer Contract Regulations will be introduced as of the 13th June and will replace the existing Distance Selling Regulations that are currently in place. Now I am not a solicitor so for full information of how this will affect you we advise you to speak to your solicitors or legal representatives. I will however outline what this means for your website and how you can avoid too much disruption due to these changes.
It is important to note that this change only affects you if you sell to an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession (or to put simply not a business).
There are a number of important changes highlighted in the new regulations, we are only going to focus on those that affect your website and online sales process.
- If you are selling additional products with a main sale you are no longer permitted to automatically include these purchases as pre-selected options. To put this simply you must ensure the customer opts in rather than forcing them to opt out of the purchase. This change only affects selections that have a monetary value, as such having pre-filled selection for free newsletter sign ups are still permitted.
- Prices must now include VAT charges and any additional costs must be made clear prior to the customer proceeding to the checkout.
- Where your company has a customer service or after sales helpline that is not a free to call number, the number can now only be a basic rate phone number. The following numbers will no longer be permitted: 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872, 0873, 090, 091 & 098.
- The new regulations now include digital sales, this includes all music and video game downloads.
- Delivery timings must now be displayed clearly at or prior to the beginning of the ordering process.
Full information about the Consumer Contract Regulations can be seen here.
These changes will having varying affects on your website depending on your current website and sales process. It is likely that the following areas of your business process will need to be reviewed:
- Are you providing adequate information to consumers before they enter into a contract with you.
- That you are providing all communications in the regulated time-scale.
- Your online or telephone sales process is compliant with the regulations.
- Ensure that all after sale and associated helplines use a free or basic rate phone number.
- That internal procedures surrounding refunds and cancellations are adhering to the regulations.
Due to the wide range of regulation changes highlighted we strongly recommend you to speak to your solicitors or legal representatives to ensure you are not in violation when the changes are introduced on 13th June.