Highland Council Trading Standards support National Consumer Week Campaign 2020

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The Highland Council Trading Standards team are keen to promote National Consumer Week (NCW) 2020.   This year’s campaign will focus on raising awareness of consumer shopping rights online and what consumers can do when things go wrong.   NCW 2020 takes place from today until Sunday 22 November 2020.    

David MacKenzie, the Council's Trading Standards Manager explains further: “As the countdown to Christmas gets underway it a good opportunity to remind consumers of what their rights are when they shop online as part of this national campaign.  We are keen to ensure that consumers look out for certain pitfalls before they shop online so to avoid unnecessary costs and delays.  We have provided the following information to consumers on their rights which we hope they will check out before they buy.”

  • When Shopping Online – 14 day cooling off period

Consumers can expect the same shopping rights that they receive when shopping on the high street.  However, when consumers buy goods online or via their television, in their home from a doorstep seller, in their workplace or from a mail order catalogue they also have the added right to return goods (in most cases) if they change their mind.   There does not have to be anything wrong with the goods in order to exercise their right to cancel. The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 say that within 14 days of receiving goods consumers can cancel their contract and receive a full refund. If cancellation information isn't provided, this could extend a consumers right to cancel from 14 days up to 12 months from the date the goods arrive.  However, there are exceptions to these rights e.g. personalised goods or perishable items so consumers should find out their rights before they buy.

  • Distance selling – before the contract is concluded  

If a business sells goods or services through digital TV, by mail order or by phone or text message this is called ‘distance selling’.  Distance selling contracts are where there is no face to face contact between the business and the consumer before the contract is made.  Businesses who sell goods or services in this way must provide certain information to the consumer before the contract is concluded.  If this information is not provided, then the business is in breach of contract and liable for any costs as a result.   Information that is required (before an order is placed) includes:   

  • business name, contact details and address
  • a description of the goods or services being offered for sale
  • the price, including all taxes
  • how a customer can pay (debit card/credit card etc)
  • delivery arrangements, costs and how long goods will take to arrive
  • conditions for ending contracts (Termination due to breach of contract for instance).

And how consumers can cancel (14 day cooling off period) and when they lose the right to cancel.      There are also further requirements relating to rights to a cooling off period and information relating to costs etc.    All information must be easy to understand and on paper, in an email or durable format.   Business advice on what information should be provided and how this can be displayed/provided can be found at: https://www.businesscompanion.info/

  • After an order is placed

Once an order has been placed a business must provide; a copy of the contract on paper, by email or another format that the consumer can save for future reference; the copy of the contract no later than when the goods are delivered and deliver the goods within 30 days, unless agreed otherwise by both the parties.

  • Read the small print before you buy! 

Important terms and conditions must be made more prominent and not tucked away on website and/or paper copies of invoices delivery notes etc.  Consumers must be given clear information on terms and conditions before they agree to buy goods without having to worry about hidden charges.  Terms that impose delivery charges or delivery restrictions and/or return policies must be explained clearly to the consumer.  If such information is unclear or missing, then the consumer may have a right to compensation or a full refund.   

  • Shopping rights on the high street and online

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 a consumer is entitled to demand a refund, replacement or free repair if any of their rights relating to goods or services have been breached.   Consumers rights are the same under the Act whether they have purchased goods online or on the high street.     

Highland Council Trading Standards work in partnership with Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) regarding consumer rights.   ADS also provide a free and confidential consumer advice service for consumers in Scotland through their website: https://consumeradvice.scot/

Andrew Bartlett, Chief Executive of Scotland’s national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, said: “Online shopping has brought huge benefits for people and can save time and money. Retailers are hoping for a bumper winter, and people can choose to shop with their local stores if they sell goods online.  This week we’re reminding Scots that it’s important to know your rights so that you can shop online safely. Unfortunately, there can be delays in deliveries or unfair charges, issues contacting traders to rectify issues when they arise, and additional problems with damaged or faulty goods. Consumer legislation is there to protect us when things do not go to plan, and our team is on hand to help Scots with free, practical and impartial advice”.

Getting further help when things go wrong

Highland Council Trading Standards work in partnership with Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) regarding consumer rights.  Consumers can find out further information about their shopping rights at Consumeradvice.scot or by talking to an advisor on telephone number 0808 164 6000 or by email at: advice@consumeradvice.scot

Consumers can also follow Highland Council Trading Standards for further advice on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/HCTradingStandards

16 Nov 2020
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