The Consumer Rights Directive was passed into UK law in December 2013 and will officially supersede the Distance Selling Regulations on 13 June 2014.
All online sales that made from that time must comply with this new legislation.
Difference between Distance Selling Regulations 2000 and Consumer Rights Directive 2013
The Consumers Rights Directive actually incorporates many of the provisions outlined in the Distance Selling Regulations (DSR), with obligations for online sellers to provide certain information to consumers and to have adhere certain obligations before a contract is made, during the contract and after the contract is concluded.
However the new law brings changes that impact sellers who sell online to consumers, physical goods, digital products online or services.
- Consumers will have a 14 day ‘cooling off period’ in which to inspect the goods that they receive and still be able to return them for refund.
- Where a phone line is offered to customers for post-sales enquiries, then the cost to them must not exceed the basic rate for a consumer to use.
- A consumer must be advised before they buy if they will be responsible for the cost of returning the item. If they are, then the online seller must also provide an indication of the likely cost of transporting the return back.
- Online sellers must refund the customer within 14 days of receiving the goods back or within 14 days of receiving proof of posting.
- Refund must include the cost of the goods and the outbound delivery charge. However if the customer chooses an express or premium delivery option, the seller is only obliged to refund the cost of the standard delivery option that the consumer could have chosen.
Some things have improved for online sellers of goods. The definition of a durable medium for communication to customers will now include information on the website, where it is not expected to change, and be specific to the customer and they can easily access it, for example, through the customer’s online account.
Implementing the Customer Rights Directive
Online sellers have until 13 June 2014 to ensure that they comply with the Consumer Rights Directive. This will mean a thorough review of all aspects of the online operation: website, email communciations, customer services and T&Cs to identify what changes are needed and prepare to make the changes so that they are implemented in good time.
Where to find out more
The actual ‘Consumer Rights Directive 2014 is available to view here (PDF), which includes suggested text for cancellations.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has published additional information (PDF), which explains the Consumer Rights Directive in more detail.