The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (CCR) apply to contracts made both on and away from business premises, as well as “at a distance”. There are also rules for businesses providing digital content.
Known formally as the Consumer Contracts Regulations (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges), the regulations came into force in June 2014, replacing the Distance Selling Regulations.
In essence, they detail the rights and protections you have if something goes wrong with goods or services you purchased at a distance, such as online or over the phone, or off-premises.
The regulations mandate that consumers receive comprehensive information and are provided with a 14-day cancellation period. The regulations also prohibit the use of premium-rate customer service telephone numbers and so-called ‘negative options’ – where items are automatically added to an online basket requiring the consumer to ‘opt out’ to avoid buying them.
Which contracts are covered by the CCR?
The regulations apply to the vast majority of businesses that contract with consumers, regardless of where or how the contract is made. They are not applicable to contracts where traders purchase goods or services from consumers, nor to contracts made between consumers.
However, not all transactions are covered under the Consumer Contracts Regulations. For example, financial services, like banking and pensions, and package travel contracts are excluded from the terms of the CCR. The regulations do, however, cover:
- Sales contracts – such as for the sale of goods and also for the supply of goods and services together.
- Service contracts – this is for services only – for example, legal advice or gas and electricity supply.
- Digital content – this is for data through an intangible medium such as music downloads or streaming.
If your purchase was made after June 2014, you will be covered by the CCR. Distance purchases made before this date are dealt with under the Distance Selling Regulations.
Your rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulations
When you purchase something, you enter into a contract with the seller. The Consumer Contracts Regulations specify that before you enter into the contract you must be provided with a certain amount of information.
This information has to be provided to you in a ‘durable’ manner. It can be given verbally if you ordered something over the phone, written on paper, displayed on a webpage or delivered via email.
The act outlines a comprehensive list of information that the business must provide, which include:
- Details of the business; name, address, phone number, fax number, web address and email address.
- Details of any third parties involved in the contract.
- Total price of the good(s) or service(s) or digital content.
- A detailed description of the good(s) or services(s) or digital content.
- Dates of delivery and how the goods or services will be delivered.
- Cost of delivery.
- Payment details.
- Process for returns or cancellations, including who is responsible for the cost of returning the items.
- Details on your right to cancel. The business must provide you with a return form.
- If you are purchasing digital content, you must be provided with information on its compatibility with hardware and other software.
Certain practices are also prohibited. For example, a business is not allowed to charge you for items that are added to your basket via a pre-ticked box, such as an extended warranty.
The CCR also state that you have the right to cancel the contract at any time during the ‘cooling off’ period and that you must receive confirmation of the contract.
Cancellation periods for goods and services
If the type of transaction allows it, you have the right to cancel the contract during the specified ‘cooling off’ or cancellation period without providing a reason to the seller. If you do wish to cancel you must clearly communicate this to the seller. This can be done verbally or in writing.
There are differing cancellation periods set out for goods and services. For goods, it is 14 calendar days after:
- You (or someone nominated by you) physically receives the goods, or
- You (or someone nominated by you) physically receives the last of the goods (if you ordered several separate goods as part of one transaction).
For example, you decide that you want to purchase a new TV. You see a deal online and decide to buy it. From the moment you take physical possession of the TV you have 14 days to change your mind. You then have a further 14 days to return the TV.
For services the cancellation period is 14 days after the contract was made. The seller shouldn’t start supplying this service before the 14-day cooling-off period has ended, unless you specifically stated you wanted it to.
To illustrate this, you decide you want to learn how to build a website. You sign up to an e-learning course. You have 14 days from when you enter into the contract to cancel it.
Consumer Contract Regulations FAQs
What does the consumer contracts Regulations cover?
The Consumer Contracts Regulations govern consumer rights when buying at a distance - such as online or over the phone - or off-premises.
What is included in the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013?
The regulations place an obligation on traders to give you certain information and provide consumers with certain to cancel or be refunded.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute tax, financial or legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the rules and should not be treated as such.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission.
Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert tax, financial, legal or other advice should be sought.