When selling online, you must comply with all applicable laws concerning e-commerce transactions and consumer protection, and any laws specific to your industry sector. Be aware that this article does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.
In the European Union
EU directives and regulations form the common basis of the laws for individual member states.
Directive on Consumer Rights (2011/83/EU)
Article 6 requires the trader to provide certain information to consumer prior to their order being placed. This includes:
- a description of the goods or services
- the trader’s name and address
- the trader’s telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address (where available)
- the total price of the goods or services, including taxes, and any delivery charges
- details of arrangements for payment and delivery, including time-scales
- the trader’s complaint-handling policy
- details of the consumer’s right to withdraw (cancel)
- whether the consumer bears the cost of returning the goods following withdrawal, and the cost of returning the goods if they cannot be returned by post
Article 9 details the consumer’s right to withdraw:
- the consumer has a right to withdraw within 14 days, and need not give any reason for doing so
- the 14 day period begins after the consumer acquires possession of the goods
- if multiple goods are ordered and delivered separately, the 14 day period begins after the consumer acquires possession of the last good
Articles 13 and 14 details the trader’s and consumer’s obligation in the event of withdrawal:
- the trader must reimburse all payments received, including delivery costs
- the consumer must be reimbursed within 14 days of informing the trader of their decision to withdraw
- the consumer is only required to pay the direct cost of returning the goods, and only if the trader informed the consumer of this prior to entering into the contract
- the consumer has the right to handle the goods to determine their nature, characteristics, and functioning, and is not liable for the diminished value of the goods as a result of such handling
Article 16 details exceptions from the right of withdrawal, including exceptions for the supply of customised or perishable goods.
Article 18 requires the trader to deliver goods within 30 days of the conclusion of the contract, unless the consumer has agreed otherwise.
Article 20 requires that, if the trader operates a telephone line for customers to make contact in relation to the contract, the consumer must not be charged more than the basic rate.
Regulation on Consumer ODR (No 524/2013)
Article 14 requires the trader to provide the following information on their website:
- their e-mail address
- a link to the Online Dispute Resolution service at https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/
In the United Kingdom
The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008
These regulations require a company to display the following information on all its business letters, order forms, and websites:
- the company’s registered name
- the part of the UK in which the company is registered
- the company’s registration number
- the company’s registered address
- the fact that the company is a limited company, if applicable