What is the Distance Selling Act?

If a retailer, service provider or business sells goods or services through TV, postal order, phone or text message this is called distance selling and falls under the distance selling act.

The previous legislation called The Distance Selling Regulations no longer apply in the UK instead it is replaced by The Consumer Contracts Regulations which has not changed significantly under new Brexit laws.

What Do We Need to Provide to Buyers Under the Distance Selling Act?

Before an order is placed via one of the previously mentioned mediums, some things must be provided by the retailer in easy to understand language on a paper or saveable format such as:

  • Business name, address and details of the contract.
  • A description of both goods and services.
  • The price of the product, including any taxes.
  • Methods by which the customer can pay.
  • Any delivery arrangements such as the cost and how long for the goods or product will take to arrive.
  • Conditions to end the contract.
  • The minimum length of the contract and billing period of consumers.
  • Information on how the consumer can cancel the purchase if made and when the right to cancel is lost.
  • If the consumer may need to pay any reasonable costs for using the service after the cancellation of the purchase.
  • A cancellation form if the consumer cancels.
  • Any condition details for deposits and finance given.
  • If digital content is the purchase what it does.
  • The cost of using any phone lines or other forms of communication that complete the contract with the consumer if it costs more than the basic rate.

The seller must inform the consumer that they have the right to cancel their order for up to 14 days after the order delivery is completed.

What Reasons for Cancellation are Valid?

No reason for the cancellation is required. However, if the consumer is not informed of this right to cancel they then have the right to cancel their order anything within 12 months. There are extra rules that need to be followed if goods or services are sold online these rules are:

  • A retailer must make it clear to a consumer they have to pay when they place the order online.
  • The online retailer must display how customers can pay, including delivery costs and options available.
  • An online seller must list any steps that may be involved in a consumer’s order.
  • The online retailer must take reasonable steps to allow orders to correct any issues with their order.
  • A retailer should let customers know what other languages are available for descriptions of goods etc.
  • An online retailer must make sure any terms and conditions of a purchase are storable, such as downloadable T&C’s.
  • A retailer must give their email address/contact information.
  • The online retailer must give a VAT number if the business is registered for VAT.
  • An online seller/retailer must give a description of goods, services, and/or digital content.
  • The online retailer must give the total price and how it is calculated,
  • A retailer must give the total delivery cost or how it is calculated.
  • Must tell a consumer the minimum length of the contract

What Other Controls Are Required under the Distance Selling Act ?

After an order is placed online the retailer must confirm the contract as soon as reasonably possible and no later than when the goods are delivered to the consumer.

If the purchased goods are digital, an email must be sent to the purchasers to confirm the download.

Also, the retailer should provide the consumer with a copy of the contract by email, paper or another saveable format for future records.

The goods should be delivered within 30 days unless the retailer has agreed with the consumer.

Therefore, if a retailer does not comply with the rules laid out above, they may be liable to provide goods and services as agreed, made to pay compensation or they can be given an unlimited fine or prison sentence if in severe violation of the Regulations.