Changes to distance selling regulations

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations come into force on 13 June 2014.

The regulations apply to any traders selling goods, services or digital content to a consumer. They replace the distance selling regulations 2000 and doorstep selling regulations 2008.

The regulations set out:

  • the information which a trader must give to a consumer before and after making a sale,
  • how that information should be given,
  • the right for consumers to change their minds when buying at a distance or off-premises,
  • delivery times and passing of risk,
  • a prohibition on any additional payments which appear as a default option, and
  • a prohibition on consumers having to pay more than the basic rate for post-contract customer helplines.

The key changes will likely be of most relevance to businesses selling goods, services or digital content online, or via mail order/telephone.

New regulations – key points

    • The cancellation period will extend from the current 7 calendar/working days (off-premises/distance sales) to 14 calendar days for both to give consumers more time to change their minds.
    • Online and other distance or off-premises traders will be able to withhold refunds until goods are returned (or evidence of return is provided). Traders must refund within 14 days of cancellation of service contract or receipt of goods (or of evidence of return). Consumers should return items within 14 days of cancellation.
    • Where the consumer cancels a contract, any ancillary contract (such as a warranty or credit agreement) is automatically cancelled.
    • Unless the trader and consumer agree otherwise, delivery of goods should be without undue delay and within 30 days.
    • Traders will need the active consent of the consumer for all payments – pre-ticked boxes for additional payments, for instance, will no longer be permitted.
    • Consumers will not be liable for costs which they have not been told, pre-contract, that they must bear.
    • Where traders offer telephone helplines for consumers to contact them about something they have bought, there should be a number available on which the consumer can call for this purpose at no more than the basic rate.

For more information: Department for Business Innovation & Skills – Implementing Guidance

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