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Changes to Commercial Terms

This is a guest blog by Tom Moore on behalf of Stephens Scown LLP.

As you are probably aware, when you sell a product or service on-line, you are automatically bound by legal regulations that dictate how you offer that product/service, deal with returns and generally run the on-line ordering process.

As of 13 June 2014 the regulations which govern the on-line sale of products and services have changed.The changes are numerous, but, most importantly, impose further duties on businesses which sell products or services through their website. Some of the key changes are summarised below.

Additional Charges:
o Express consent must be provided by the customer for any additional payments.
o You must provide a non-premium rate telephone line for customers to contact you.

Pre-purchase Information:
o If you do not provide the correct information to the customer prior to purchase, the cancellation period can be extended by up to 12 months (in addition to the statutory 14 days), giving a total of 54 weeks.
o There must be a clear “obligation to pay” button or notice.
o Clear information must be given by email before payment is taken.

Digital Content:
o The Regulations have now introduced the concept of digital content into UK law i.e. downloadable goods such as music and books will be covered by the new regulations.

o The statutory “cooling off” period has been extended to 14 calendar days from the previous 7 days.
o There is now a requirement to provide the customer with a model cancellation form if they have a right to cancel.

o If the returned goods have diminished in value you can deduct an amount from the refund.
o Goods must be delivered without delay, i.e. within 30 days, unless the customer explicitly agrees otherwise.

As a result of the legislation, one of the biggest changes is that orders will require a form of acknowledgement before an order is placed – e.g. an initial e-mail is sent to the customer after they have placed an order to confirm that the order has been received and provide a “durable” copy of the e-commerce terms, and then a subsequent e-mail is sent to confirm the order has been made, money has transferred and the product/service will be provided in adherence to the previously provided e-commerce terms.

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