Other requirements for consumer contracts

Other requirements for consumer contracts

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Confirmation of distance contracts

If you agree a contract without face-to-face contact, this is known as 'distance selling'. If you supply goods or services in this way, you must give the consumer confirmation of this contract on a 'durable medium' (see Regulatory requirements for consumer contracts for a definition of durable medium).

If you haven't already given the consumer all of the information you're required to provide, as discussed in Information requirements in consumer contracts, on a durable medium, you must set it out in the confirmation of the contract. You must provide this confirmation within a reasonable time after the contract is made and, at the latest, at the time of delivery of the goods or before the start of any services carried out under the contract.

If the contract is for the sale of digital content and the consumer wants the supply to begin before the end of the cooling-off period, the confirmation of the contract must confirm that the consumer has asked for this. The consumer must also acknowledge that they'll lose their right to cancel the contract once the supply of digital content has started.

Special requirements for distance contracts concluded by phone

If you're concluding a distance contract with a consumer by phone, at the start of the phone call you must say who you are (or state the name of the person you're calling for) and the commercial purpose of the call.

Special requirements for distance contracts concluded electronically

If the distance contract is concluded electronically (e.g. online), you must ensure that you:

  • tell the consumer the minimum duration of their obligations under the contract
  • give them the information you're required to provide before they place the order in a clear and prominent way
  • provide the additional information as discussed in Information requirements in consumer contracts.

The ordering process must be set up in such a way that the consumer has to explicitly acknowledge that they're entering into an obligation to pay the seller. This will be achieved if the consumer clicks on a button with the words 'Order with obligation to pay', 'Pay now', or something similar. Unless the consumer makes this express acknowledgement, the consumer isn't bound by the contract and you won't be able to insist on payment.

Your website must state whether there are any delivery restrictions. It must also clearly state which means of payment you accept. This information must be given to the consumer at least by the beginning of the ordering process.

The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations (EC regulations) also apply to sales concluded electronically. These regulations require you to also provide additional information in a way that is easily and permanently accessible, as discussed in Information requirements in consumer contracts. Under these regulations, if you're concluding a contract by electronic means other than by email, you must also:

  • acknowledge, without delay and by electronic means, that you've received their order; and
  • make it possible for the consumer to identify and correct any input errors before they place the order.

Time for delivery of the goods

You can agree a specific delivery date with the consumer. Unless you both agree otherwise, you must deliver the goods to the consumer within 30 days from the date the contract of sale was made. However, consumers can agree a different date for the goods or service to be delivered.

If you're unable to deliver the goods within the 30 days (or other agreed period), you should tell the consumer. The consumer can end the contract if they'd told you that the original date was essential, or if this was obvious in the circumstances. Alternatively, the consumer can give you extra time to deliver. If they give you extra time, and you still don't deliver within this extended period, the consumer can then end the contract.

If the consumer ends the contract, you must repay any money they paid you as soon as possible. The consumer might also be able to claim damages from you to compensate them from any loss they've suffered because of your failure to deliver the goods on time.

Risk of loss or damage

The risk of loss of or damage to the goods passes to the consumer when the goods are delivered to:

  • the consumer; or
  • someone the consumer has identified to take delivery for them.

You wouldn't be liable for any loss or damage to the goods after that point.

If the consumer has asked you to use a carrier they've chosen (which isn't your usual carrier), risk passes to the consumer when you hand the goods to that carrier.

Helplines

You can't charge the consumer more than the basic rate for telephone helplines in relation to the consumer's contract with you. If you do, you must pay the consumer the difference between the telephone rate charged and the basic rate.

Unsolicited goods

If you send goods to a consumer without the consumer ordering them, the consumer doesn't have to pay for or return them. The consumer can treat them as an unconditional gift.