New Consumer Protection Rules

Businesses that sell goods and services to consumers over the internet should face criminal penalties if they fail to display details on cancellation rights, according to the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) and Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers (ACTSO).

In response to a Government consultation on new consumer protection rules, TSI and ACTSO said that it should be a criminal offence for traders that form 'distance contracts' with consumers to fail to present those individuals with information on their cancellation rights. A spokesperson said: "We feel that the offence of failing to give information to consumers about the cancellation of 'off-premises contracts' should be extended to include 'distance contracts’ ”.

The two types of contract are different: where distance contracts concern agreements made between two or more parties based in separate locations, such as over the telephone or internet, off-premises contracts are sales transactions entered into at locations which are not the businesses' premises, including door-to-door.

UK laws on selling over the internet are mainly set out in the Distance Selling Regulations which give shoppers specific legal protections and different cancellation rights from people who buy in-store. 

One requirement is that businesses generally must supply goods within 30 days or pay a refund. The regulations also state that in most circumstances online purchasers have the right to cancel an order they made within seven days of the goods being delivered and receive a full refunds. Online customers are also entitled to a full refund for goods or services not provided by the date agreed with a business.

For more information on selling over the internet, please contact Palbir Vadesha on 0116 212 1000.

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