New Consumer Protection Rights

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Peter Stevens On 13th December 2013, the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 were passed. The Regulations make a number of important changes to the rules governing business to consumer (B2C) contracts made by mail order, internet, telephone or fax, or anywhere else away from the trader’s premises, and come into force on 13th June 2014.

The 10 most important changes are:

1. The consumer must expressly choose to tick the option to purchase add-ons. Pre-ticked additional options are banned.

2. Traders cannot charge more than the basic rate for calls to telephone hot lines, or more than the actual processing costs for card payments.

3. Clearer and more detailed information, including all the main contractual elements, and the estimated cost of returning goods on cancellation (or a reasonable estimate), must be given in plain intelligible language before the order is placed. This also applies to digital content, and consumers lose the right to cancel the purchase when they begin downloading.

4. Acceptable means of payment and any delivery restrictions must be indicated, clearly and legibly, by the start of the ordering process, and the total cost of the goods or services must be disclosed before the order is placed or the consumer is not bound.

5. Consumers must be expressly and unambiguously warned before placing the order that this will entail an obligation to pay, and must explicitly acknowledge this when placing the order.

6. The goods must be delivered within a maximum of 30 days. The consumer cannot be made to bear the risk of loss or damage in transit.

7. The cancellation right is extended to 14 days from when the consumer receives the goods. This can be extended by up to 12 months if the consumer has not been given the relevant information in advance.

8. On cancellation, the refund must be made within 14 days. Deductions for reduction in the value of the goods caused by normal examination and testing are not allowed.

9. Unless the consumer agrees otherwise, the refund must be made by the same means as the original payment, and must include the original delivery costs. If the consumer chose a more expensive delivery method than normal, the trader is only required to refund the lower amount.

10. Consumers must be able to cancel online, or to use an EU-wide model cancellation form.

Fur further information, contact Peter Stevens

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