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Regulations: retailers must comply with new legal rules

Retailers selling to consumers must comply with new regulations governing sales from 13 June 2014. Notably, this includes retailers selling digital content.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - May 2014

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

Almost all retailers will be affected by the new rules and should start work now to review their buying procedures, literature and websites, make appropriate amendments and train their staff accordingly.

The new rules include:

  • Giving clearer and more prominent information to consumers before and after sales. These rules apply not just to distance sales and sales made in the consumer's home, but also to 'non-day-to-day' sales on the retailer's premises, for example car or large furniture sales.
  • Making a model cancellation form available for distance and doorstep sales.
  • Providing a longer cancellation period (14 days) for distance and doorstep sales, except for digital downloads. The new rules say retailers can provide that digital downloads cannot be cancelled once they have started, but must make this clear to the consumer - and the consumer must explicitly agree to this.
  • If the sale is of digital content, giving additional information about, for example, its functionality and compatibility.
  • Requiring refunds to be provided within 14 days of receipt of cancelled goods – although retailers can now deduct damages for wear and tear where the goods have been used.
  • Making it clear when clicking a button incurs a charge – a new and significant requirement.
  • Banning practices such as pre-ticked boxes for chargeable services on order forms and using premium rate customer telephone helplines.

Failure to comply can result in prosecution. If information is not provided, a consumer can sometimes cancel the contract even if goods or services have already been supplied.

Operative date
13 June 2014

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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