Andy Brian, Solicitor and retail expert at law firm Gordons
Online fashion retailers need to prepare for key changes to the distance selling rules over the coming 12 months.
As reported previously by Drapers, the Consumer Rights Directive will be implemented in the UK by June 2014, and will affect existing practices in relation to distance selling and the consumer’s right to cancel.
Key changes are the extension of the statutory cooling-off period for distance sales, from seven working days to 14 calendar days, and the introduction of a 12-month cancellation period if the retailer fails to provide relevant information, extending the current three-month period.
Retailers should also bear in mind that the collection or return costs for cancelled orders may not be charged to the consumer, unless they have been made aware when ordering that they will be responsible for returning the goods.
Retailers will therefore need to ensure their terms and conditions are up to date, and that their delivery and returns processes reflect the new rules.
While many retailers will offer a returns policy that is more favourable than the legally required period, a failure to provide requisite information on the right to cancel could have a significantly costly impact.
Fashion retailers obliged to accept order cancellations - and therefore issue refunds - for 12 months after an order is placed could end up significantly out of pocket.