EU consumer regulations rewrite the small print for British etailers

August 21, 2014

This article was first published by Drapers on 21 June 2014

British retailers must review and update their online terms and conditions following the introduction of new consumer protection regulations last week.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, the UK arm of the EU Directive on Consumer Rights, shoppers now have 14 calendar days rather than seven working days to return items bought online or by phone. They also have the same time to cancel an order.

Other measures include a ban on retailers using a premium-rate phone number when a customer is calling about an item they have already purchased. Simple terms such as ‘confirm’ or ‘buy new’ may no longer be used for the final purchase click when items are bought online. Instead a phrase such as ‘pay now’, ‘order with obligation to pay’ or something similarly unambiguous must be used.

Stephen Sidkin, a partner at law firm Fox Williams, said retailers would have to review their websites, processes, policies and terms and conditions to ensure compliance or “they could be putting their reputations at risk”.

However, a spokesman for the British Retail Consortium said it was confident the directive would not result in more bureaucracy.

The directive aims to homogenise and strengthen consumer rights across all member states. In the UK, the regulations replace the Distance Selling Regulations and Doorstep Selling Regulations.

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