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Friday, July 17, 2015

Selling online - do you have up to date terms and conditions?

Categories: Ecommerce


Have you updated your terms and conditions for selling online? Have you checked if your business must comply with the enhanced protection rights given to consumers or is your business subject to other rules? These additional protection rules came into force in June 2014 and reading through the actual legislation can leave your brain smoking. In this helpful article, Sligo-based solicitor Michelle McLoughling helps describe the consumer protection guidelines through a simple case study.


2 quick actions to check compliance if selling online:

  1. 1. Do the terms and conditions specify a 14 day cooling off period?
  2. 2. What cancellation procedure is available online (or in hard copy) to cancel the contract and return the product?

Case Study on consumer protection when buying online under the new rules

Mary is busy running around on her lunch break on Wednesday. In a store window she spots a blue dress for €75 that she thinks would be perfect for the summer party. She has no time to call into the store and try the dress on.

That evening while online she checks and finds that the store has an online shopping facility so she searches for the blue dress and luckily they still have it in her size.

The site provides details of the retailer, its telephone and email address and a full description of the product and images of the dress. It also has details of its customer complaints procedure and how to cancel an order. She orders the dress which has a price of €75 plus a delivery charge of €5 payable by the consumer, so she pays €80 in total.

She then receives an email confirming her order. The email confirms that she paid €80 and that she has a 14 day cooling off (cancellation) period to decide on her purchase. The email sets out the details of how she can return the product. The email includes a link to a cancellation form on the website in case she changes her mind about the purchase.

The dress arrives on Friday and Mary eagerly tries it on. Unfortunately it looks completely different on her than she had anticipated. Mary decides that she does not want to keep the dress.

On Monday Mary uses the online cancellation form on the store's website to tell them that she has changed her mind and will be returning the dress and cancelling her purchase. Mary then has 14 days to return the dress to the store. Under the terms and conditions that Mary signed up to when she purchased the dress she is responsible for paying the costs of returning the dress.

On receipt of Mary's notification of cancellation the store has 14 days to reimburse Mary the €80 to cover both the cost of the dress and the initial delivery charge for the dress that was sent to her. If the shop had not informed Mary of the 14 day cooling off period Mary would have had 12 months to return the dress.

Failure by traders to comply with these rules is an offence and can result in fines (of up to €60,000) and/or imprisonment (not exceeding 18 months).

Read more about selling online as well as many other great business tips from Michelle McLoughlin's on her website at www.mmcloughlinsolicitors.com.


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