Are your website terms and conditions up to scratch?
12 March 2015
For online contracts to be binding on the customer, your terms must be accepted; so it is not sufficient just to place your terms and conditions on your website. You also need to ensure that a customer is given the opportunity to read and accept your terms prior to the sale being made.
The new Consumer Contracts Regulations now apply to all purchases made at a distance, with the following requirements for online traders:
- you must extend your cancellation or cooling off period to 14 days and provide a model cancellation form with the right to cancel;
- you have to make clear where any step triggers a payment on your website, for example, with a ‘pay now’ button;
- you can no longer include pre-ticked boxes that tie consumers into additional payments;
- helplines must be charged at basic not premium rate;
- delivery of goods must be made within 30 days unless specified otherwise;
- you must include extended pre-contract information, including payment, delivery and performance arrangements;
- if the main contract is cancelled, any associated contracts will also be terminated;
- where refunds are payable, it must cover the full price including the cheapest delivery price; and
- for internet and phone sales, you must ensure your customer has an order confirmation, such as an email, no later than delivery of goods or performance of services.
Remember that terms and conditions must be written in plain English. Some automatic terms are deemed unfair and not binding on the customer, like those that prevent the customer recovering their money on cancellation.
Plus, if your website collects personal data, then you need to comply with the rules contained in the Data Protection Act, such as obtaining an opt-in from the customer. There are also strict rules on website cookies, in that you must give users the opportunity to refuse them.
Regularly reviewing your terms and conditions of trading and data protection policies will make sure they are the right side of the law and look after your interests if a customer dispute arises.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.