The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched a new online resource to help businesses comply with the law when selling goods and services at a distance, such as website or mail order sales
The Distance Selling Hub provides information about the rules and regulations that apply to the sale of certain goods and services over the internet, telephone, through interactive TV, by text or by mail order.
OFT research shows that many businesses are not fully complying with the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs), the main law that relates to shopping from a distance. An OFT report in 2010 estimated that only nine per cent of business respondents considered themselves to be very familiar with the DSRs.
The DSRs give shoppers specific legal protections and different cancellation rights from those buying in store, including:
- an unconditional cooling off period (usually seven working days), during which an order can be cancelled and a full refund received (this excludes certain items such as perishable items or personalised goods)
- a full refund if the goods or services are not provided by the date agreed. If a date was not agreed, then the shopper is entitled to a refund if the goods or services are not provided within 30 days.
The OFT is urging traders to review their sales and returns policies to make sure they are lawful and has launched the Distance Selling Hub help them understand their legal requirements. It provides a simple at-a-glance guide to the law, detailed explanations, practical examples, and training materials developed to help businesses understand their obligations.
Jason Freeman, director in the OFT’s Goods and Consumer Group, said: “The growth in distance selling – in particular via the internet – is bringing great benefits to consumers and the economy, but also creates new risks.
‘Businesses need to check that they are treating their customers fairly so that shoppers trust them and can continue to shop confidently. We know most traders want to comply with the rules and the development of this hub is designed to help them stay on the right side of the law.’