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Consumer Regulations Guide: What You Need to Know

Online sales are booming across the UK, and everything suggests that this trend is here to stay. The United Kingdom tops the list of European countries in terms of online sales, as during 2014 alone online transactions generated revenues for the value of nearly £45 billion. In only six years, the volume of online sales in the UK has tripled, especially since more and more consumers are using their mobile devices (like tablets and smartphones) to make purchases online.

Online retail sales (also known as e-tailing) offer consumers the convenience of purchasing their favourite goods from the comfort of their homes. This new way of conducting commercial transactions also benefits business owners, who can now easily reach a wider consumer base and multiply their income exponentially. Whether you are a consumer who shops online or the owner of an online business, it is important that you are aware of the new consumer regulations that apply to online commercial transactions since June 2014. Read through our summary below to familiarise yourself with your rights and responsibilities.

What type of transactions are included?
The new consumer regulations apply to online transactions used to purchase both goods and services. This includes the purchase of digital content (music, movies, software, etc.) but excludes things like the purchase of foodstuffs, gambling transactions, and transactions that involve residential accommodation.

What information are retailers obliged to provide?
Retailers must make the customer aware of the following information before any contract is signed and before orders are placed: the characteristics of the goods on offer; the final price including any relevant taxes; clear delivery information; the seller’s name and contact details; and the duration of the contract where applicable.

How do the changes affect the ‘cooling off’ period?
Previously, consumers had a seven-day ‘cooling off’ period that allowed them to cancel a contract or purchase without needing to have any specific reason. Under the new consumer regulations, this period has been extended to 14 days. The 14-day period also applies to other parts of the transaction, such as returns and refunds, which must be processed within 14 days of receiving the returned goods.

What about delivery terms?
Under the amended consumer regulations, online retailers must deliver goods or services without delay and within a maximum of 30 calendar days from the date in which the order was placed.

The following infographic, courtesy of Waterfront Solicitors, provides a detailed visual overview of the regulatory changes that every e-tailer in the UK should be aware of.

Guide For Online Businesses

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