Selling on the Internet
PRINT THIS ADVICE SHEET
This leaflet highlights key additional legal controls which apply when selling online and provides a checklist for businesses within the United Kingdom designing web pages, which promote the sale of goods and services to consumers on the Internet. Existing consumer protection law applies online (see particularly our leaflets 'A trader's guide to the civil law relating to the sale and supply of goods
' and 'A guide to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 (as amended):
Key features of the regulations:
- the consumer must be given clear information about the goods or services offered
- after making a purchase, the consumer must be sent confirmation
- the consumer has the right to cancel within seven working days for most goods and services - this period runs from the day the contract was concluded for services and from the day after the day of delivery for goods.
- for services, the supplier must provide the consumer with information as to how the right to cancel may be affected if the consumer agrees to performance beginning less than seven working days after the contract was concluded - this information must be provided prior to or in good time during the performance of the contract
By complying with the regulations, and providing the following information in a clear and comprehensible manner, not only are you encouraging the confidence of consumers, you are enhancing the quality of their online shopping experience.
For further guidance, advice leaflets and downloads see the OFT's dedicated Distance Selling HubElectronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002:
These regulations stipulate further information that must be included on a website. The following checklist of information that must be included on your website includes items that are required by other legislation as well as those that will aid compliance with the above regulations:
- full company details - name, a UK geographic address and an e-mail address
- full terms and conditions that are readily accessible, fair and meaningful
- a description of the goods or services being sold
- pricing information, fully inclusive of any delivery charges, taxes, excise duty, etc.
- information about how long the offer or price applies
- details of stages involved in the ordering process, including any costs involved in distance communication if the cost is at anything other than a standard rate
- the different technical steps to follow to conclude a contract so that consumers are made aware of what the process will involve and the point at which they will commit themselves
- information about the availability, delivery and dispatch of the goods
- information about substitutes in the event that goods or services are not available, including telling the consumer that the cost of returning unsatisfactory substitute goods will be refunded
- clear complaints procedure and policy on returning goods
- information about withdrawal/cancellation rights
- a statement that the UK law is the applicable law**
- a statement indicating that, when buying goods and services on the Internet, the consumer is entering a legally binding contract
- the technical means for identifying and correcting input errors prior to the placing of the order
- a data protection statement*
- a cookie (unique identifier) policy*
- an opt-in box for unsolicited e-mail*
- details of any registration scheme to which you belong and your registration number, or other means of identification in that register
- details of certain professional bodies you are registered with, your professional title and applicable rules (e.g. chartered surveyor and RICS)
- details of any Code of Practice to which you subscribe
- VAT number (if appropriate)
* These provisions are by virtue of data protection legislation and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
both enforced by the Information Commissioner. Detailed advice on these provisions can be found on the Information Commissioner's Office
As well as the laws covered above, trading standards services enforce a range of consumer and trading legislation (covering such areas as misleading prices and product safety) that might affect you. Please browse our other leaflets to see if anything else deals with your area of business. If your business sells via auction websites, please see our leaflet 'Internet auction sites'
. Please note:
This leaflet is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance. For further information, please contact Blackpool Trading Standards. Last reviewed/updated: December 2010; Trading Standards Institute.