The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 ('Distance Selling' Regulations) provide legal protection for consumers purchasing goods and services 'at a distance'. This definition includes purchases made via the Internet, digital television, mail order (including catalogue shopping), phone, and fax.
Organisations selling online must provide certain information to consumers as well as offer a 7 working day cooling off period. During this period consumers have a right to cancel their purchase. The cooling-off period is 3 months where you haven't given notice of the 7 working day cooling off period.
'Distance Selling' Directive
The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 implement Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 20 May 1997 (O.J. No. L144, 4.6.97, p.19) on the protection of consumers in relation to distance contracts. The Regulations apply to consumer contracts for goods or services made exclusively by means of distance communication.
The regulations are amended by The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) (Amendment) Regulations 2005
Businesses must provide consumers with clear information so that they can make an informed choice about whether or not they wish to buy from you. The information you give to the consumer must include details about:
- your business;
- the goods or services you are selling;
- your payment arrangements;
- your delivery arrangements;
- Right to cancel period of 7 working days (known as the cooling off period);
- Recovery of paid monies
- Restoration of goods after cancellation.
The Regulations should also be read in conjunction with the E-commerce Regulations 2002. These Regulations set down clear guidance on promoting online trust and confidence when selling goods and services online. You should also check out the 2004 regulations that apply to the purchase of financial services
You must give consumers 7 working days in which they can decide to withdraw from the contract (the 'cooling off' period). This doesn't apply to goods and services (1) made to the consumer's specifications; (2) audio and video records, computer software unsealed by the consumer; (3) newspapers, periodicals and magazines; (4) gaming, betting or the lottery.
The cooling-off period is 3 months where you haven't given notice of the 7 working day cooling off period. Unless agreed otherwise, consumers have a right to receive goods or services within 30 days. If your sale is to another business the Distance Selling Regulations do not apply.