Distance Selling and Consumer protection explained

The Distant Selling Regulations

Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, as amended, a buyer is, in certain circumstances, entitled to receive a refund if they change their mind.  

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 implemented a European Directive on distance selling (Directive 97/7/EC).

When do the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 apply?

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 apply to both goods and services, where the contract is made between a supplier (a seller acting in the course of a business) and a consumer (a non-business buyer) and there is no face-to-face contact between them.  

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 will apply to most sales made over the internet.

Are all goods and services covered by the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000?

Certain goods and services are exempt from all or part of the Regulations. These are as follows: 

  • Business-to-business contracts;
  • Financial services sold at a distance (However, these are covered by the Financial Services (Distant Marketing) Regulations);
  • Contracts for the sale of land;
  • Products bought from vending machines;
  • Goods or services bought at an auction with an auctioneer.

Isn’t eBay an auction site?

There has been much debate as to whether eBay is an auctioneer in the proper sense of the law. In 2004 the German Supreme Court ruled that online auctions are not “real” auctions and that the European Directive on distance selling covered buyers and sellers in online auctions. However, German law relating to auctions is different to the law of England and Wales and the question has yet to be decided by the Courts of England and Wales. 

“Buy It Now” listings and “Second Chance Offers” are, however, unlikely to be regarded as auctions.

If the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 do apply what are the rights of the consumer?

Cooling off periods

Where the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 apply consumers have a cooling off period in which they can withdraw from the contract for any reason.

In the case of goods the cooling off period generally ends 7 working days after the day of the receipt of the goods.  

In the case of services the cooling off period generally ends 7 working days after the day upon which the order was placed.

Unlock this article now!

 

For more information on:

  • Refunds
  • Return of goods
  • What should I do if a supplier refuses to give me a refund or take back the goods?