The Consumer Rights Directive for UK Retailers. Deadline: 13 June
What is it?
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges ) Regulations 2013. This implements into UK law the remaining elements of the Consumer Rights Directive which was passed in 2011.
When will it change?
These changes will come into force on the June 13th 2014.
Who is affected?
All retailers in the United Kingdom.
What are the changes?
- After sales – Premium rate customer services telephone numbers will no longer be allowed. Technical helplines (troubleshooting and assistance) can, however, still be charged at the premium rate.
- Information – Customers must be provided with certain information before they complete a contract for sale.
- Pre-ticked boxes – No boxes in the purchase process should be pre-ticked. All additional services/products to be purchased need to be actively ticked by the customer.
- Cost of returns – Retailers must inform customers who will be responsible for the cost of returning products where the consumer has exercised their cancellation rights.
- Obligation to pay – Retailers must make customers aware of their “obligation to pay” at the checkout stages. Call-to-action (CTA) labeling at the checkout should be “Pay Now” instead of “Buy Now” or “Check Out”.
- 14 day right to withdraw – The customer’s right to withdraw will be extended from 7 days to 14 days. This cancellation policy must be made known to the customer before they place their order.
- Cancellation form – Retailers need to provide a downloadable standard cancellation or return form that customers can access and print off from the website.
- Retailer refunds – A full refund must be issued to the customer within 14 days of receiving the goods or the cancellation form. The cost of standard shipping must also be refunded to the customer.
- Diminished value – If the customer handles the product beyond what is necessary and as a result diminishes the value of that product, then the business can make a deduction from the refund.
- Total cost of goods – The total cost of goods (inc taxes, duties, shipping) needs to be made clear at the point of sale.
- Order confirmations – Confirmation details of a distance contract/sale must be sent to the customer via a “durable medium”. The most common “durable medium” will be email, however there are other means.
- Download cancellations – Customers must ask the retailer to begin a download before the expiry of the cancellation period. If the customer asks for this, they lose the right to withdraw from the contract.
What should retailers do?
Retailers will need to be aware of these changes and ensure that the websites correctly reflect these requirements, along with any T&Cs, order policies and dispatch notes. Some form of training or updates should be made to all staff, especially the customer services teams. Consider your margins and decide whether you will agree to collect goods if a customer exercises their cancellation rights or whether you will insist on the customer bearing this cost.
If a retailer fails to comply with these changes then there could be costly consequences involved so be sure to understand your responsibilities and have the required procedures and practices in place before the 13th June 2014.
Download the full document to find out more: Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 and the UK Implementing Guidelines.
In addition to these two documents we came across this very helpful ‘plain English guide to compliance‘ book* and, given that there are just a few days left to comply, it may be a more manageable way for you to digest these changes and get your site up to scratch without the stress or headaches! Written by Heather Burns. *Please note that this does not constitute as legal advice.