As of October 1, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is now in force. We asked Trusted Shops’ UK market manager and legal expert Naveen Aricatt what the changes mean for online and multichannel retailers.
Internet Retailing: New consumer rights legislation comes into force this month. How significant are the changes it brings for online and multichannel retailers, and why?
Naveen Aricatt, UK market manager and legal expert at Trusted Shops: The changes to legislation will introduce clearer remedies and timeframes for consumers to claim a refund, repair or replacement on faulty or unsatisfactory goods, digital content and poor services.
The most significant changes surround digital content. The new legislation states that downloaded content should be treated in the same way as a tangible product, which is not something we have ever seen before. Like with other goods and services, if the downloaded content is faulty or damages a device after being downloaded, the retailer is liable.
IR: Do you think this something that most retailers are already on top of – and why do you think that is?
NA: When the law is involved, big retailers are usually always compliant especially as their reputation is at stake. Not only this, most retailers understand the importance of being honest with their customers in order to build and cement trust and loyalty. When communicated effectively the changes will give shoppers a new found confidence which businesses can hone in on to sustain repeat customers and entice new ones.
IR: What are the key points they most urgently need to think about, if they haven’t already?
NA: First, they should re-write contracts to guarantee that they are compliant with the new laws, then secondly, ensure staff are aware of the new changes to avoid discrepancies, law breaking and unhappy customers. Thirdly, they should avoid excessive small print information which can easily mislead and confuse customers.
IR: What easy steps can they take to comply with the legislation right now?
NA: Retailers, especially those selling music or games for download or eBooks, should go through their terms and conditions and make sure that they correct the clauses so that they match the new law. The texts on the website should be reviewed and any small print should be avoided. In addition to that, it is essential, that staff are aware of the new rules and are conscious of how do deal with customers who aren’t familiar with the new terms and conditions. By providing the correct information to consumers from the outset there is little room for misinterpretation which could potentially result in dissatisfied customers.
IR: What should retailers ensure they do in the longer-term?
NA: In the long-term it’s really important that retailers are transparent with consumers about the goods/services they are providing to avoid confusion over the products they are selling and the new terms around returns and refunds.
Trusted Shops, a European trustmark for ecommerce retailers, is used by more than 25,000 online shops across the continent and has been in operation for more than 15 years.