UK E-commerce rule changes June 2014

Some of the rules are changing for distance selling in June 2014 but you already know all about it?

Back in 2011 Brussels implemented some rule changes for the sale of products and services via distance means. This impacts catalogue companies and of course online retailers and comes into force in June 2014 here in the UK.

Since the changes were made in 2011 you already know all about this right? Well just encase you don’t here’s a quick run down from the IMRG, the voice of e-retail.

  1. The cooling-off period goes from the current 7 days, starting from day after delivery, to 14 days.
  2. The period over which the refund must take place is falling from 30 days after notice of cancellation, to 14 days. However, issuing the refund is now linked to either receipt of the goods back from the customer or the proof of dispatch being provided by the customer.
  3. Traders can withhold a proportion of the payment to reflect usage other than that required to check that the product is as described. This may not allow a customer to plug an electrical item in to check functionality as this would then become a faulty return.
  4. The use of 08 telephone numbers for post-contract communications will not be in compliance with the new rules. The issue is that the base legislation, the Consumer Rights Directive, states that calls must be at basic rate, whilst no definition of basic rate is provided. Therefore, the UK implementation is that this is provided by the normal geographic numbers ‘01’, ‘02’ or ‘03’. Many telephone networks do not treat 0800 numbers as free-phone or 0845 numbers as local rate so these cannot be considered as basic rate.
  5. Pre-checked boxes which trigger additional payments are no longer allowed. Any such option must require the customer to select the option which incurs the additional payment.
  6. Excessive surcharges on payment methods – this has already been introduced in the UK but will now be harmonised across the EU 28.
  7. If a trader fails to inform the customer of their rights then the period over which the customer can cancel their order increases from 3 months to 12 months.
  8. Pre-contract and as early in the order process as possible, the customer must be advised of any restrictions on payment types or delivery areas.
  9. The ‘Buy’ button must clearly communicate to the customer that an order is being placed, a contract formed and payment will be taken. The exact terminology and placement of these messages have yet to be determined.

They IMRG admit that there are some areas of clarification required for traders such as the “BUY” button and what is acceptable. The use of pre-check boxes is also a response to the likes of Sports Direct and their rather large mugs!

We will of course keep our eyes and ears open on this and will be supporting our clients to make sure they comply and are happy to help you if you are unclear about what these rule changes mean to your business.

About the Author

John Williams avatar

John Williams, Sales and Marketing

John was once a client who joined the Gibe team for several years to help us with sales and marketing. He left Gibe to return to the world of freelance marketing and is once again a wonderful client for Gibe.