A recent decision by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has served to highlight the importance of complying with your obligations under distance selling and e-commerce regulations.
Wigshow.co.uk, an online retailer of wigs and hair pieces, has had three complaints about its website and service upheld by the ASA. All three complaints and findings related to the lack of clear information on the wigshow.co.uk website, some of which was deemed to be misleading and in breach of its obligations under the Distance Selling Regulations and the Cap Advertising Code. The complaints specifically related to the fact that:
The cost of returning the goods was not clearly advertised, the consumer in question was told they would only get a 50% refund upon the return of the goods. This was not clearly stated on the website;
The full geographical address of the seller was nowhere on the website or on the packaging of the product itself; and
Wigshow had informed the consumer that they would have to pays customs charges when posting the product back. There was no reference to these charges on the website.
These decisions should serve as a reminder to all companies selling on the internet to check their terms and conditions, as well as their overall website, to ensure it is compliant with the relevant regulations. At the bare minimum, your website should contain the following information:
- Your company’s full name and contact address;
- Full product details;
- Full cost information, including delivery costs;
- Clear information informing the consumer of:
- Their rights to cancel their order within 7 days, without cost; and
- Your returns policy.
In addition to the above, the consumer must be provided with written confirmation, in a durable form (the information on your website does not fulfil this obligation), of their rights and your terms. This information MUST be provided either, in advance of the contract or, in good time afterwards (this realistically means immediately after the sale is concluded).
By taking a small amount of care in reviewing your website and ensuring it is compliant with the various regulations and laws that govern the selling of products and services online, you can ensure that not only are your customers receiving a top quality service, there is no chance of having complaints referred to the ASA.
If you would like further information on the internet selling and how to comply with your obligations, please do not hesitate to contact Iain Garfield at BPE Solicitors on 01242 248245 or firstname.lastname@example.org
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.