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Retailers warned to take note of new consumer regulations

British retailers must review and update their online terms and conditions following the introduction of new consumer protection regulations today (June 13).

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.

From today, simple terms such as ‘confirm’ or ‘buy now’ 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, ‘otherwise, 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.

“It will produce a clearer environment in which businesses and consumers can interact,” he said, adding the BRC had worked with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, the European Commission and the European Parliament to ensure the directive is as balanced as possible.

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.

British shoppers will be further protected by measures in the Consumer Rights Bill, currently going through parliament, which will enshrine the right of consumers to return items if they do not match online imagery.


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