Distance Selling Mail Order, Telephone and Internet

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Distance Selling (Mail Order, Telephone and Internet Shopping) Quick Facts

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Subject: Distance Selling (Mail Order, Telephone and Internet Shopping)

Relevant or Related Legislation:
Distance Selling Regulations (DSR) 2000.
Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Directive 97/7/EC.
Electronic Commerce Directive 2000.
(Other consumer legislation may apply according to circumstances)

Current Position on the Distance Selling Directive:

The UK Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations came into force on 31 October 2000 and implemented the Distance Selling Directive.  The European Commission is required to review the Directive no later than four years after its entry into force.  The review has been postponed to allow implementation in the new Member States to be examined. The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR) will be drawing to the Commission's attention some issues it believes merit consideration in the review.
The Commission is also conducting a wider review of the eight main EC directives  protecting consumers’ economic interests and this review also encompasses the Distance Selling Directive (the directives are: Timeshare, Doorstep Selling, Distance Selling, Sale of Goods and Guarantees, Unit Pricing, Unfair Contract Terms, Package Travel and Injunction).
Recent Campaigns or Consultation: changes to the Distance Selling Regulations
Full details of the amendments to the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) (Amendment) Regulations 2005 which came into force on 6 April 2005 are available from the OPSI website: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2000/20002334.htm BERR and the Office of Fair Trading http://www.oft.gov.uk/advice_and_resources/small_businesses/distance-selling/.
The changes affect when businesses must give consumers key information in a written or otherwise durable form.  For services, this information can be provided in good time before or during the performance of the service rather than before the contract is agreed.
The Government’s Safe Internet Shopping campaign provides consumers with the information they need to shop safely. You can view further advice on the Consumer Direct website

Key Facts:

• The Distance Selling Regulations apply to both goods and services, where the contract is made without any face-to-face contact between supplier and consumer.
• Certain goods and services are exempt from all or part of the Regulations.
• The Office of Fair Trading, Trading Standard Departments of local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/ and the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment in Northern Ireland (http://www.detini.gov.uk/) are the designated enforcement authorities for these Regulations.
The main provisions of the Regulations are that:
• Consumers must be given clear information about the goods or services before buying;
• Goods must be delivered within thirty days unless agreed otherwise;
• Consumers have a cooling off period in which they can withdraw from the contract for any reason. The cooling off period begins as soon as the order has been made.  In the case of goods, it ends seven working days after the day of receipt of the goods.  In the case of services, it ends seven working days after the day the order were made.  If the consumer agrees to the service beginning within the seven days, the right to cancel ends when the service starts; and
• Where consumers notify the supplier in writing or another durable medium that they wish to cancel the contract, they must be refunded within 30 days all money paid.
The Regulations do not apply to:
• business-to-business contracts
• financial services sold at distance. These are covered by the Financial Services (Distance Marketing) Regulations.
• contracts for the sale of land – although the regulations DO apply to consumer rental agreements
• products bought from vending machines
• goods or services bought at an auction with an auctioneer

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1.  What is distance selling?
Q2.  What are my rights when shopping online?
Q3.  I understand I can change my mind if I do not want the goods or services. Does that apply in all cases?
Q4.  Do I have to pay to return the goods?
Q5.  What should I do if the goods are faulty?
Q6.  What should I look out for if I want to buy on the internet?
Q7.  Who regulates the Internet?
Q8.  What can I do if I don't receive my goods?
Q9.  What can I do if there's a problem?
Q10. What is the Government doing to stop fraud on the internet?
Q11. What about TV Auction Channels?
Q12. I have a complaint against a mail order company
Q13. I am receiving books that I didn’t order
Q14. How can I stop unsolicited emails – spam?
Q15. How can I stop unsolicited telephone calls – cold calling?

The answers to the above questions can be found by clicking here


If you have an enquiry please contact Consumer Direct at: http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/ (Tel: 08454 04 05 06). Consumers in Northern Ireland should contact http://www.consumerline.org/ on 0845 600 6262.
You could also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (http://www.nacab.org.uk/) who can give you advice about your rights under the current law.
The Office of Fair Trading (http://www.oft.gov.uk/) will also follow up complaints from consumers against a company. Full details should be forwarded to enquiries@oft.gsi.gov.uk or you can contact OFT Enquiries on 08457 224499.
Any complaints about an advertisement should be directed to the Advertising Standards Authority (http://www.asa.org.uk/).
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