If you sell to consumers online, or sell at a distance by another method such as digital TV, mail order, phone or fax, then the Distance Selling Regulations may apply to you.
From 2 April 2013, under changes to the consumer protection regime introduced by Government, there will be a greater role for the local authority Trading Standards Services in the enforcement of consumer protection law at national level. The OFT will retain all of its current consumer enforcement powers but will tend to use them where breaches of consumer protection law point to systemic failures in a market. This means cases will more often be taken against a number of firms in a market, rather than cases against individual firms, unless changing the behaviour of one firm would set a precedent or have other market-wide implications.
The OFT will also retain the lead role for the enforcement of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 although the Trading Standards Services will have equal enforcement powers.
In the first instance consumers are encouraged to contact Citizens Advice regarding any problems they may have in buying goods or services.
The OFT's Distance Selling hub is a free online resource for retailers and their staff.
Developed in partnership with stakeholders and business partners, we have produced online training guidance for businesses: The Distance Selling (DS) hub. Information is relevant and supportive and available in one easy to access place in a manner that is user friendly, straightforward and engaging.
The hub covers regulations that affect buying and selling goods and services via the internet, by phone or by mail order (the Distance Selling Regulations - DSRs) and electronic means such as the internet, email, interactive TV or phone texting (the E-Commerce Regulations - ECRs).
Materials to help Trading Standards and other business support organisations promote the hub to businesses are also available on the hub.
In general you are required to:
There are some exceptions to the regulations such as: financial services, transport, accommodation, leisure services and food, drink or other goods for everyday consumption delivered by a 'regular roundsman' such as a milkman.
For advice regarding the Sale of Goods Act (SOGA) visit our SOGA hub.
Back to: Treating customers fairly