The right to cancel is the core online consumer right. It might not be the retailer’s favourite, but that does not free you from your duties - Your duty to correctly inform your customers about the legal right to cancel and respect its handling. Since 2014, the legal right to cancel is 14 days - not seven working days. Still, there are many online shops in Britain who have not properly updated their cancellation policies. Here are the 5 most important things you need to know:
1. The cooling off period
The cooling off period is the time that the consumer can take to inform you about their cancellation. It is 14 days. As a special service, you may of course extend the cooling off period to any period you like, but the 14 days cancellation period may not be minimised.
When are the 14 days over? In detail it’s a bit tricky, but the general rule is: the cancellation period ends 14 days after the (last) product was received. The exact calculation will depend on whether it is a sales contract, a service contract, or a contract for the supplying of digital content. Other than for sales contracts, the cooling off period ends 14 days after the day on which the contract was concluded.
Specifics for sales contracts
For sales contracts, it further depends on how the goods from one order are delivered. Where one order is delivered in one delivery, the 14 days end after the day on which the goods came into possession of the consumer or someone designated by them took possession of the goods. In other words, when the item was received.
If the consumer has ordered multiple goods in one order, but you deliver them on different days, then the right to cancel expires 14 days after the day on which the last item was received.
In cases where goods consist of multiple lots or pieces which are delivered on different days, it’s relevant when the last of the lots or pieces were received.
If the sales contract is about a regular delivery of goods in a defined period of more than one day, then the cooling off period ends 14 days after the first of the goods were received.
Sounds a little complicated, but actually it is not. Usually you will be sending all ordered items together or on different days as per their availability, so the relevant end of the cooling off period will be 14 days after the (last) item was received.
Basically the consumer has a 14-day right to cancel if they ordered goods, services or digital content online. However, there are some exceptions to this. These are written down in reg. 28 of the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. What is important to know is that these exceptions are exhaustive. These are the only cases for which the consumer has no right to cancel or it ceases to be. Therefore, refrain from creating your own interpretations.
3. Return costs
The return cost may be imposed on the consumer. The only thing you need to do is, inform them about this in your cancellation policy, which must be made available in your shop before the order is submitted.
Make sure that you properly inform your customers about the fact that the consumer has to bear the cost of returning, otherwise you will have to pay it.
If a consumer cancels the contract, you must reimburse basically any payment made. As described above, the return cost may be imposed on the consumer. However, the cost of sending the product to the consumer must also be reimbursed. This does not apply for additional delivery costs that the consumer chose themselves. This means that if you offer standard and next-day delivery and the consumer chooses the more expensive next-day delivery and later cancels the contract, you will have to reimburse only the standard delivery cost. Of course, the full purchase price needs to be reimbursed.
To protect retailers from a diminished value of returned items that have been used beyond what is necessary to establish the nature, characteristics and functioning of the goods, there is a right to recover an amount up to 100 % of the purchase price from the consumer. You will have to determine for every individual case whether a deduction from the reimbursement is possible and up to which amount. As a guideline one could say that any loss of value which would occur if the consumer tries to return goods in a brick and mortar store is part of business. However, you are definitely protected if goods have been really used extensively.
Do you manage an online store?
Christmas is an amazing time for sales, here is a checklist of 44 points you can use to ensure that all aspects of your business are in order.