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Consumer Regs 2013 – Information requirements

May 15, 2014

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and their long list of pre-contract information requirements.

So, you’ve read the main blog. Rather than send you off to read the legislation yourselves, which lets be honest you either won’t do or simply won’t enjoy, we’ve set out the (rather long) list information that distance sellers need to supply to consumers when they buy goods or services.

The information below is known as “pre-contract information”. This information, and your cancellation form, must be made available before the consumer is bound by the distance contract. There are also some key pieces of information, highlighted below, which must be passed on before the order is placed.

The information must be ‘given’ or ‘made available’, therefore you could send it by email, or send an email with a link to your website where all the information is set out, so long as it is provided in a way which is:

  1. Clear and comprehensible

  2. Appropriate for the means of distance communication that is being used.

This pre-contract information cannot be changed, unless you and the consumer agree.

Please note: we have focused on the information that must be provided in relation to distance contracts made online, and have not included specific rules relating to on-premises or off-premises contracts or regarding online public auctions.
 

1.       THE BASICS

A. Main characteristics of goods or services.

  1. Must be clear and prominent.
  2. Provide directly before the consumer places their order.
  3. Where the contract is made ‘by a limited means of communication’, say only via email, the information must be provided in the same way.

B. Your identity (as the trader)

  1. Including your geographical address, and if available, your telephone number, fax number and e-mail address.
  2. The key is the consumer must be able to communicate with you quickly and efficiently.
  3. Where the contract is made ‘by a limited means of communication’, say only via email, the information must be provided in the same way.
  4. If you are acting on behalf of another trader, you must provide this information in relation to them as well.

C. Total price, including taxes

  1. Or, if you cannot reasonably do this in advance, how you will calculate the price.
  2. Must be clear and prominent.
  3. Provide directly before the consumer places their order.
  4. Where the contract is made ‘by a limited means of communication’, say only via email, the information must be provided in the same way.

D. Delivery or other charges

  1. And again, if you cannot reasonably do this in advance, how you will calculate such charges.
  2. Must be clear and prominent.
  3. Provide directly before the consumer places their order.
  4. Where the contract is made ‘by a limited means of communication’, say only via email, the information must be provided in the same way.
  5. POTENTIAL PENALTY! if you fail to provide this, the consumer will NOT have to pay these charges.

E. Contract duration

  1. Length of the contract.
  2. If the length is not set or could extend automatically, how the consumer could terminate it.
  3. Where there is a minimum term, specify it!
  4. Must be clear and prominent.
  5. Provide directly before the consumer places their order.
  6. Where the contract is made ‘by a limited means of communication’, say only via email, the information must be provided in the same way

F. If the contract is a subscription of or ‘indeterminate duration’

  1. You must provide the total costs per billing period, or per month.
  2. Must be clear and prominent.
  3. Provide directly before the consumer places their order.
  4. Where the contract is made ‘by a limited means of communication’, say only via email, the information must be provided in the same way.
  5. POTENTIAL PENALTY! If you fail to provide this, the consumer will NOT have to pay these costs

G. Payment, delivery and performance

  1. Provide details of all the arrangements, including the time by which you will deliver the goods or perform the services.
  2. Note there are other regulations that kick in here, so you may not make excessive charges (in effect, you should not charge more than it costs you) and as stated in my main blog on this topic there are time frames in which you must deliver.
     

2.       IF YOU ARE SUPPLYING GOODS…

A. Consumer’s obligation to pay the costs of returning the goods to you

  1. Where they can’t be returned by post, the cost of returning the goods (or, if they can’t be calculated in advance, an estimated cost).
  2. POTENTIAL PENALTY! if you fail to provide this information, the consumer will not have to pay these costs (you will!).

B. Your legal duty regarding quality of goods

  1. Remind the consumer that you are under a legal duty to supply goods that conform with the contract.
     

3.       CANCELLATION RIGHTS

A. Right to cancel

  1. Including any conditions on that right, any time limits and procedures that must be followed
  2. This is where you could use the model cancellation form, should you wish.
  3. Where the contract is made ‘by a limited means of communication’, say only via email, the information must be provided in the same way.
  4. POTENTIAL PENALTY! If you fail to provide this:
  • the 14 day cancellation period will be extended (its start will be delayed until you supply the information, up to 12 months!);
  • you won’t be able to make any deductions for use (see main blog);
  • if you provide services during the cancellation period, you won’t be able to charge for them.
     

B. If the consumer asked for the services to be provided during the cancellation period…

  1. The fact that, if the consumer then cancels, they will be liable to pay reasonable costs for the services provided up to the point of cancellation.
  2. POTENTIAL PENALTY! If you don’t provide this information, the consumer will not have to pay for the services provided (whether in full or part) during the cancellation period.

C. If the consumer doesn’t have a right to cancel, or how they could lose that right

  1. Only applicable where the right to cancel has been lost (see main blog).
  2. State that they will not benefit from a right to cancel, or the circumstances in which this might happen (e.g. if they remove the seal from a CD, or if they request supply of services or digital content before the end of the cancellation period).
     

4.       IF YOU ARE SUPPLYING DIGITAL CONTENT…

You must provide:

  • The ways in which the content can be used.
  • It’s technical specification and any technical restriction.
  • Compatibility information, including the required operating system, version and hardware requirements.
     

5.       ADDITIONAL (but no less important…)

A. Costs of communicating with you

  • If there will be a cost, other than the basic rate, for the consumer to conclude their contract with you (e.g. a premium rate phone line) you must inform them.
     

B. Complaints handling policy, if you have one

  • Where you are subject to one, the possibility of an out-of-court complaints and redress and how the consumer can access the facility.
     

C. After sales services and guarantees, if any

  • If there are any conditions, you must inform the consumer of them.
     

D. If you are bound by a code of conduct, details of the applicable codes of conduct and how copies of the code can be obtained.

E. If the contract involved any conditions of deposits or other financial guarantees to be paid or provided by the consumer, provide full details.
 

Need a hand?

If you would like to discuss how the new regulations might impact on your business, please contact our commercial team for a free, no obligations chat.

You may also be interested in a website audit; we would run through how your business operates, review the ins and ours of your site and provide you with a list of suggested actions in light of the new regulations – whether that’s making changes to your terms and conditions, tweaking the wording on your website or changing your internal practices. We can offer full website audits from as little as £200 plus VAT.

Call our commercial team on 0207 234 0200 or email contact@waterfront.law