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Distance sales – before 13 June 2014
Information on distance contracts made before 13 June 2014, including cancellation rights
This guidance is for England and Wales
The main legislation specific to distance selling and internet trading is the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 (often referred to as the Distance Selling Regulations or DSRs). The DSRs apply to products or services that are being sold to consumers without face-to-face contact, and where the consumer has not had an opportunity to examine the goods before buying or discuss the service in person. These Regulations require consumers to be given clear information about the goods and services offered, and the right to cancel within seven working days. Clear information including the company details, terms and conditions, description of goods, cancellation rights, and pricing information must be available and easily accessible to consumers.
In the guide
Distance selling includes the following (this is not an exhaustive list):
Key features of the Regulations:
A full list of the information that must be provided to a consumer is contained in the above legislation.
For contracts made from 13 June 2014 however, the above legislation is superseded by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. See 'Distance sales - from 13 June 2014' for more information.
The consumer has the right to cancel the distance contract from the moment the contract is made. For services this period runs seven working days from the day after the contract was concluded and for goods seven working days from the day after the day on which the consumer receives the goods.
For services, the supplier must provide the consumer with information as to how the right to cancel may be affected if the consumer agrees to performance beginning less than seven working days after the contract was concluded. This information must be provided prior to or in good time during the performance of the contract.
Consumers are entitled to a refund of any money they have paid (this includes the initial delivery costs) in relation to the contract even if the goods are not defective in any way. The refund must be given as soon as possible after the consumer cancels and within a maximum of 30 days. The trader cannot insist goods are returned before a refund is given, nor can the trader insist that the goods are returned unopened and in their original packaging. However, the consumer has a statutory duty to take reasonable care of the goods. If the consumer fails to return the goods or does not take reasonable care of the goods, the trader has a right of action against consumers for these breaches.
The DSRs do not allow traders to make any further charges, such as a restocking charge or an administration charge. Traders can require consumers to pay for the cost of returning the goods but only if the consumer was informed about this before the contract was made. However, traders can never require consumers to pay for returning substitute goods or faulty goods (or any goods that do not comply with the contract) whatever the circumstances.
By complying with the Regulations, and providing the following information in a clear and comprehensible manner, not only are you encouraging the confidence of consumers, you are enhancing the quality of their online shopping experience.
Also related to distance selling are the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002. These Regulations mainly apply to traders who sell / advertise goods or services to businesses or consumers on the internet or by email. Traders must provide the following information (this is not an exhaustive list), some of which overlap with the DSRs:
It is also strongly recommended where relevant that retail sites incorporate a system to prevent sales of age-restricted products such as alcohol, spray paints, video games and DVDs to persons under the required age. There are many more goods that are subject to age restriction - see 'Age-restricted products' for more information.
As well as the laws covered above, trading standards services enforce a range of consumer and trading legislation (covering such areas as misleading prices and product safety) that might affect you. Please browse our other leaflets to see if anything else covers your area of business. If your business sells via auction websites, please see 'Internet auction sites & marketplaces'.
Where the breach affects the collective interest of consumers, a business may also be subject to an enforcement order by a trading standards service or other regulator. Using the Enterprise Act 2002, they can apply to the courts for an injunction against any business found not complying with the Regulations.
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law. Any legislation referred to, while still current, may have been amended from the form in which it was originally enacted. Please contact us for further information.
Last reviewed/updated: May 2014
Vale of Glamorgan Trading Standards, Legal & Regulatory Services, Civic Offices, Holton Road, Barry, Vale of
Glamorgan. CF63 4RU
Opening Hours: Monday - Thursday: 08:30-17:00, Friday: 08:30-16:30.
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